Thursday, May 23, 2024

EverWind, MODG sign new community benefits deal

  • May 1 2024
  • By Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter    

GUYSBOROUGH — As part of its plans to generate gigawatts of power from wind farms it intends to build in Guysborough County, EverWind Fuels Inc. has struck a community benefits agreement (CBA) that could pour millions of dollars into the local economy over the next several years, according to the company’s engagement manager Mark Stewart.

“We are delighted to have signed a significant CBA with the Municipality of the District of Guysborough (MODG),” he told The Journal last week, adding, “The $1,000-per-megawatt paid annually into a community benefits fund represents a substantial win for the community. On a 500-megawatt project, for example, [the benefit is] $500,000 paid annually to the community through the CBA … We are targeting approximately two gigawatts [2,000 megawatts] over three main sites developed in phases.”

The project is also expected to generate approximately $4.1 million annually in municipal commercial tax revenue, based on $8,245 per megawatt, he said.

Stewart’s comments came 10 days after a special meeting of MODG’s committee of the whole recommended sending the draft CBA for vote to a regular session of council, where it was unanimously approved on April 17.

According to a briefing note prepared by municipal development officer Deborah Torrey, EverWind is planning separate wind farms in MODG, the Municipality of the District of St. Mary’s and Antigonish County to power phase 2 – scheduled to become operational in 2027-28 – of its estimated $6 billion-green hydrogen and ammonia project, centred at Port Tupper.

MODG communities directly affected include Hadleyville, Lincolnville, West Cooks Cove, Larry’s River, Goldboro, Middle Country Harbour, Upper Afton and South Merland.

The projects are “at various stages and EverWind has initiated the environmental studies and engagement required for the EA registration,” the document states. “As with other wind projects it is anticipated that approval for these will include conditions related noise modeling, shadow flicker, vegetation … water course [and] surface water management, sediment and erosion control, wildlife management, noise level … assurance, complaint resolution, the formation of a community liaison committee, Mi’kmaq communications plan, comprehensive contingency plan, and decommissioning and site reclamation plan.”

In an interview last week, MODG Chief Administrative Officer Barry Carroll said that he could not discuss the details of the CBA because they are “commercially confidential” to EverWind, but that “Generally, agreements of this type involve employment, training, bursaries in schools, grants to community groups … a whole array of things.”

In his email to The Journal, however, Stewart was forthcoming about several of the agreement’s details. “We see the signing of the CBA as a significant step towards solidifying the lasting benefits the project offers the community through annual payments [and] have committed to sign the CBA with MODG to ensure binding conditions for the life of the projects,” he said.

Stewart added that CBA “ensures that the local community directly benefits from the development of renewable energy infrastructure, fostering a sense of ownership and pride.

“As part of the community benefits fund, the vibrancy fund can provide much-needed funds for community-led development projects, such as infrastructure improvements, newly constructed community assets, education and training initiatives or environmental conservation efforts. The allocation of the funds will be driven by local communities through the community liaison committee and follow a clear application and allocation process.”

He continued, “We are committed to local investment in communities and believe this agreement establishes a precedent for future renewable energy projects to prioritize community engagement and investment, ultimately driving sustainable development and social progress in MODG and Nova Scotia more broadly.”

EverWind plans to host open houses between late May and early June.