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Northland Power cancels wind project in County of St. Paul

Information was presented at an open house in November of 2022 regarding a potential wind farm in the area. The Pihew Waciy project has now been cancelled.

ST. PAUL - A wind power project that was being planned for an area in the County of St. Paul has been cancelled, according to information received by area residents from the potential developer, Northland Power. 

In a letter dated March 16, it states that on Dec. 22, the project known as Pihew Waciy, received its Renewable Energy Referral Report from Alberta Environment and Protected Areas (AEP).  

"The team at Northland and our supporting group of environmental specialists have spent a number of weeks evaluating the feedback from AEP, in the hopes of finding environmentally tenable and economically viable solutions to reduce the expected environmental impacts of the proposed project," reads the letter.  

It further states: "After much consideration, we have determined that we have exhausted any potential resolutions to these impacts. In alignment with our core values at Northland, we do what's right: in acting with integrity and respect for the AEP process, we have concluded that Pihew Waciy no longer has a viable development path, and we are terminating the project." 

Northland Project Development Manager Liam Reed signed the letter, and also noted that the decision to cancel the project was a difficult one. 

Area resident Chris Habiak has been one of several area residents who have voiced concern about the proposed project. An open house held in November attracted a number of residents who asked questions and expressed displeasure with wind turbines being built in the chosen area.  

Lakeland This Week reached out to Habiak, last week. He noted that he had heard the project was being cancelled and acknowledged "it was kind of a surreal feeling," when he heard the news. 

It was an "unbelievable, overwhelming feeling of joy," said Habiak, adding, "I had the best sleep I had in years." 

With news of the cancelled Pihew Waciy project trickling through the area, another wind power project is being put forward by a different company, just to the south of the North Saskatchewan River, in the Northern Valley area.  

The area is within the County of St. Paul south of the North Saskatchewan River and east of Highway 41 and also falls in the northeast corner of the County of Two Hills. 

Notification regarding the Northern Valley Wind Project was part of the March 13 agenda for Elk Point Town Council, who received it as information. The project is being developed by Elemental Energy Renewables Inc. of Vancouver, which operates or is developing projects across North America, with four operational solar projects in Alberta and three operating wind projects in eastern Canada. 

The proposed Northern Valley project would consist of 15 turbines located on privately owned farmland and environmental studies have been initiated for the site areas, with a comprehensive report filed with Alberta Environment and Parks. A meteorological testing tower will be erected approximately three miles east of Highway 41 and a mile south of the County of St. Paul border to evaluate wind speeds in the area, which Elemental Energy says is a key step in assessing the commercial viability of the project. The project is proposed to connect to the local ATCO distribution grid. 

Elemental Energy’s development manager Liam Wolfe says that once siting constraints are determined and it is determined that the layout would be compliant with provincial regulations, a preliminary layout will be shared with the public and an open house held to gather feedback. Consultation with officials of both municipalities and local landowners has begun and will continue through 2023, according to the information council received from the company. 

A meeting organized by concerned residents is being planned for April 4, and is open to the public to discuss concerns about wind development in the Lakeland, according to Habiak. 

“We were able to rally together as a community... there’s no reason why we can’t do it again," said Habiak.