By Marianne Curtis
For the past three year, a group ofRMofDe Salaberryresidents have been working on a project designed to capture the wind. A recent grant from a federal program is bringing this project another step forward.
In the middle of December the federal government announced that they would be funnelling $62,000 into two wind energy cooperatives in the province, one of which is in theRMofDe Salaberry. The goal of this project is to construct two wind farms inManitobafor the energy production co-operatives in Saint-Claude (CÉÉ) and De Salaberry (DWC).
Last year, a preliminary study on wind quality was conducted. Now, the co-operatives must analyze and interpret the gathered data, and adapt it to the management model in order to offer the service to Manitoba Hydro. Inspired by the Val-Éo co-operative inSaint-Bruno,Quebec, the CÉÉ and DWC will adopt the co-operative model inManitobato help agricultural producers and their communities control the management of their wind-energy resources.
Robert Roger, a De Salaberry Wind Energy Cooperative director explained that the project has been in the works for a number of years. Five years ago, a group went to all the bilingual municipalities including Ste. Anne and La Broquerie and asked them to participate in the project.
“We had a bunch of local producers look at the St. Leon project wind farm and they were envious of the project,” recalled Roger. “We didn’t get anywhere.”
Undaunted the group pressed forward and soon forty-six landowners bought into the project with a $1,000 share. A meterological tower was installed between St. Malo andSt. Pierreand has been collecting data for over a year.
“This gives us a secure land base for the windfarm exclusively withRMofDe Salaberrylandowners,” explained Roger. “We’ve been collecting data for a year and a half – there are three zones in the municipality that have the potential to be a wind.”
The next phase will be closing off the membership for landowners and take on financial investors, he added. Once complete, the coop is looking at installing twenty-five wind turbines with an output of 50 megawatts.
“We want to develop a coop model so that it doesn’t matter who has the tower, everyone will benefit,” Roger continued, “We want to have a community ownership for the project so we can recoup some of the returns they are noticing in St.Leon– so that we can prosper as a community.”
The De Salaberry Wind Energy Cooperative is optimistic that when the province issues an open call for wind developers for potential wind farms.
“We will be a contender,” stated Roger.
Roger says that he is grateful for the many stakeholders that have backed the project from day one. He is convinced that without the ongoing support of these key people, the project would not be what it is today.