ST. MARY'S, Nova Scotia (From news reports) - One of northeastern Nova Scotia's largest employers and biggest companies says its new wind energy project is a "rising tide that will float all boats" - including communities in the Municipality of the District of St. Mary's.
Allan Eddy, manager of business development for Port Hawkesbury Paper LP, told a recent St Mary's council meeting that the company's PH Wind division, formally launched two months ago after two years of meteorological testing in Guysborough County, expects to start construction on a 100-megawatt facility as early as next year.
"Having a project that is this close to your municipality is going to be beneficial to all, especially with construction [jobs] and all of those things," he said.
In an interview, Eddy elaborated: "A project of this nature is going to generate a lot of activity through construction. And then there's ongoing maintenance, which will also involve local employment and supply chain spin offs for the immediate area."
Eddy explained that Port Hawkesbury Paper's decision to venture into the wind energy business is both timely and pragmatic.
"Both federal and provincial levels of government have goals around climate change, and decarbonization," he said. "One the most direct ways to address these goals is to reduce the reliance on coal here."
What's more, he noted, Port Hawkesbury Paper's biggest input cost is not wood or people, but energy. "We spend twice as much per year on energy as we do on anything else," he said. "In fact, we represent 10 per cent of all the energy consumed on the provincial grind on an annual basis."
When PH Wind's facilities are fully operational, they will like comprise the largest farm of its kind in the province. "We're now at the stage where we believe that there's significant, and sufficient, promise in this project," Eddy said. "We are currently in conversations with a major wind developer who would come and add that extra depth of knowledge, experience and horsepower to continue the development of the project."
Overall, the project is expected to cost $200 million. Port Hawkesbury Paper employs upwards of 1,000 people - directly and indirectly - in northeastern Nova Scotia.
"Reducing our carbon footprint and moving quickly to green energy benefits everybody in the province," Eddy said, adding: "This is the kind of thing that keeps local people in place. Young people here have the opportunity to work and can stay. It's that anchoring of rural Nova Scotia where the real benefits for St. Mary's unfold."