Last evening, EverWinds hosted an “open house” in the Earltown Community Centre on Highway 311 halfway between Truro and Tatamagouche, to showcase its proposed 98-megawatt Kmtnuk wind farm with “up to 20 turbines” proposed for Colchester County.
The open house featured posters mounted on stands around the hall, outlining the company’s plans for the new wind farm, which company representatives assured attendees will be available soon on the Kmtnuk website.
There was plenty of EverWind swag available, with EverWind water bottles, baseball caps, pens, and even locally made maple syrup products displayed on tables around the room. There was also a counter weighed down with a tempting spread of sandwiches, baked goods, cheese and beverages, all provided by the Earltown General Store that catered the event.
As the open house lasted from 5 to 8pm, it was difficult at any one time to figure out how many of the people inside the crowded hall were consultants or representatives of EverWind Fuels and its partners in the project — Renewable Energy Systems (RES) and the Membertou First Nation company Wind Strength — and how many were curious citizens there to find out more about EverWind’s plans to put up a large new wind farm in the area.
Details still to come
The Kmtnuk wind farm, slated for a large area just to the west of Nova Scotia Power’s existing 22-turbine, 50.6-megawatt Nuttby Mountain wind farm, is one of four large new wind projects the company has planned for the province to produce the vast amounts of power it will need for its facility in Point Tupper on the Canso Strait, where it will produce green hydrogen and convert it to ammonia for shipping to Germany.
The Earltown open house followed one held the previous evening in the South West Hants Fire Station on Highway 14 for the 17-turbine, 89-megawatt (MW) Bear Lake wind farm EverWind is proposing near the intersection of the municipalities of West Hants, Chester and Halifax.
Daniel Lee, senior manager of corporate development for EverWind, told the Halifax Examiner about 50 people showed up for the Bear Lake open house, and that the reaction was “quite positive.”
For all the posters and project representatives present at the Earltown open house, precise details and answers about the Kmtnuk wind project and other massive new wind farms EverWind is planning for Nova Scotia were remarkably scarce.
Lee was not able to say how much land would need to be cleared to put up the wind turbines, saying only that it would be included in the environmental assessment.
Oscar Urbina of Renewable Energy Systems told the Examiner the Kmtnuk project will have a maximum of 20 turbines but that the tendering is ongoing, so the exact details are not yet known. The turbines will be between 5.2 and 6.6 megawatts each, with towers 95 to 120 metres tall, with 85-metre blades.
While the project area has been reduced down from the large original study area, Urbina was not able to provide the actual size in hectares or acres of the newly defined project site shown on a map on one of the posters.
Nor was Urbina able to say whether any of that land was former Scott Paper land, now owned by the U.S. company Wagner Forest Management’s Nova Scotia subsidiary Atlantic Star, or land owned by Northern Pulp. Northern Pulp owns a very large parcel of land in the area that it purchased with a $75 million loan from the province in 2010, which is currently not being repaid while the company is in creditor protection in the British Columbia Supreme Court.
Urbina said only that the wind project will be “mostly on Crown land” it will lease from the province.
However, the Kmtnuk website says private land leases for the project have “already been secured.”
Answers still blowing in the wind
In August 2022, EverWind signed memoranda of understandings (MOUs) with two German companies, Uniper and E.ON, for the “offtake” of a million tonnes of ammonia a year from its proposed hydrogen and ammonia facility in Point Tupper.
At the time, an E.ON executive commented this arrangement meant his company could “bring the energy of the Canadian wind to Germany by ship.”
EverWind now says it is “set to produce approximately 240,000 tonnes per annum of green ammonia starting in 2025, then achieve approximately 1.5 million tonnes per annum production by 2026 during a second phase.”
In a June presentation to Uniper and E.ON, EverWind said Nova Scotia Power is “motivated to sign a sing PPA [power purchase agreement] with the company, for up to “650 MW of grid connected wind.” The presention shows that the energy EverWind intends to produce at the planned Kmtnuk, Bear Lake, and a third much larger wind project will be fed into the Nova Scotia Power grid, and EverWind will then buy it back from Nova Scotia Power through a PPA for its use in Point Tupper.
In the same June presentation, EverWind said it expected to have environmental approval for the Bear Lake and Kmtnuk (which it then called Nuttby Ridge) wind projects by November 2023, and environmental approval for the third far larger wind power project, Windy Ridge, by December 2023.
Wind projects are subject to Class I environmental assessments. According to Nova Scotia Environment and Climate Change, a Class I environmental assessment “typically takes 50 calendar days” to complete, “although the assessment may be extended if the Minister decides that more information, a focus report or environmental assessment report is required.”
The Examiner asked EverWind’s Daniel Lee when the company would be submitting the Kmtnuk wind project to Nova Scotia Environment and Climate Change for environmental assessment.
“Assuming all goes well, I think we’ll probably submit it around October, whenever the EA [environmental assessment] is ready,” Lee said. “We don’t want to force things. Consultation is extremely important. And if we need more open houses, we’ll do more open houses and all that kind of stuff.”
The Kmtnuk wind farm is not the only one EverWind has planned for Colchester County, and it is by no means the largest one the company has planned in Nova Scotia.
The second wind power project planned for Colchester County, Windy Ridge, will have 66 turbines producing 340 megawatts of power. That’s nearly twice the size of the largest existing wind farm in Nova Scotia, the 34-turbine, 102-megawatt South Canoe facility in Lunenburg County.
Asked when EverWind would be holding the open house for the Windy Ridge project, given that it said in a June presentation it expected environmental approval by December this year, Lee replied, “We haven’t released it yet, so I can’t speak to that. It will be public as all out other open houses.”
EverWind’s June 2023 presentation to Uniper and E.ON indicates that the massive Windy Ridge wind project is located to the west of the Kmtnuk site, north of the Minas Basin, not far from Folly Mountain south of the Wentworth Valley where the Higgins Mountain wind farm was recently approved.
Asked for the actual location of the Windy Ridge project, Lee said only, “That will be released when it’s available.” He said it would be “on a mix” of private and Crown land.
EverWind wind farm ‘largest in the Western Hemisphere’
But even the Windy Ridge project is small compared with a fourth wind power facility EverWind says it plans to build in the Municipality of the District of Guysborough by 2026 to power phase two of its hydrogen and ammonia production.
EverWind’s website boasts that the Guysborough wind project will be the “largest in the Western Hemisphere.”
Asked how much land would be needed for the biggest wind farm in the Western hemisphere, EverWind director of public affairs Adam Langer replied, “I don’t know if it will be the biggest wind farm in the Western hemisphere.”
“We have to go through environmental assessments for those projects as well, to determine exactly where we’re going to be putting those locations,” Langer explained.
He said they are aiming to have the Guysborough wind project up and running by 2026.
The Examiner also asked Langer how EverWind justifies to Nova Scotians their plan to use Nova Scotia’s wind and land resources, including forested areas with important wildlife habitat and corridors, to produce renewable energy that will be used to produce ammonia for export to Germany, especially when the province is struggling to get off coal by 2030, and to replace fossil fuels with 80% renewable energy.
“The purpose of us getting off coal as a province is to fight climate change, reduce greenhouse gases,” Langer replied. “At the end of the day, that’s what all of this is about. Climate is in crisis right now and we have to fight climate change. Hydrogen and green ammonia are viewed by many as a key component of fighting climate change.”
Langer and Lee went on to list some of the uses of hydrogen, but did not specify to what use the ammonia EverWind it produces from hydrogen and exports to Germany will be put.
Several people were listening in to the Examiner’s interview with Lee and Langer at the open house, and at this point, one intervened.
“You’re not listening,” said John Perkins, a resident of Colchester County and a member of Sustainable Northern Nova Scotia. “The point is you’re coming in here like carpetbaggers, disturbing the environment, taking tax incentives.”
As the Examiner reported here, Julia Levin, associate director for national climate at Environmental Defence Canada, sees “green hydrogen” projects in Atlantic Canada as “subsidy harvesting projects.”
You’re destroying the land so you can make energy to sell to somebody else, and make a whole lot of money for yourselves, and leave us holding the bag for all the environmental devastation and destruction and the clean-up. And that’s an opinion of a Nova Scotian who’s seen it come in with gold mines. And now you guys come here and say, “Oh, this is going to be so wonderful for you. This is such a great economic opportunity for Nova Scotia.” I don’t see any sign at all that there’s anything in this for Colchester County. Nothing. You don’t have any of your green energy coming in to service this community.
Langer invited Perkins to go into the community centre to see the information displayed there, and speak to the representatives on hand to answer questions.
Perkins told Langer he’d been inside already and studied the information available:
I’ve seen this dog and pony show before. It’s the classic playbook for companies who are foisting developments on people like us. You come in with a bunch of high-powered consultants. There’s probably as many consultants on your staff [at the open house], as there are us [citizens attending]. You come in with a very expensively prepared PowerPoint presentation that presents the information in such a way that we have to talk to individual people and ask individual questions. You go home after this meeting and tick the community consultation box on your EA process. What I’d like to know is when is there going to be an opportunity for you guys to sit down with all of us and talk to us and have us ask the kind of questions and get the kind of answers that don’t include things like, “Oh, that’ll be in the environmental impact assessment document.” Because that’s just bullshit.
Lee told Perkins that EverWind would be back in Earltown in October to present their findings, once they had more information and had taken stock of comments like his.
Langer said he would be happy to chat with Perkins, but not as part of a recorded interview with the Examiner.
Perkins later told the Examiner that Langer and Lee committed to a public meeting in future in a better venue, which would allow the public to review information in advance and ask questions of a group of EverWind representatives.
In an interview outside the Earltown community hall, MLA for Colchester North, Tom Taggart, said, “My biggest priority here, and I’ve expressed that clearly to the folks inside, is that they respect the community.”
Taggart said he’s a “huge supporter of wind,” but he did not want to see another case like the Higgins Mountain wind farm in Wentworth, where he doesn’t believe the concerns of the community were respected.
As for EverWind’s plans, Taggart said he’s not discounting anything because, “We’ve got to deal with this green energy thing.”
“We’ve had a hard go in the last 12 months with respect to the results of climate change,” said Taggart. “But if we’re playing a role in reducing greenhouse gases, I don’t care if it’s China or if it’s in Europe or if it’s in Earltown. We’ve got to get it under control.”
 Full disclosure: John Perkins is my neighbour in northern Nova Scotia.