Suncor Energy is teaming up with wind energy giant NextEra to build its Cedar Point project in Plympton-Wyoming and Lambton Shores.
Jason Vaillant says the companies have formed a limited 50-50 partnership with the “skilled and experienced operator.”
Suncor has been working on the Cedar Point project for years. The company has received approval from the Ministry of the Environment for 43 turbines in the region. That approval was challenged by local residents at an Environmental Review Tribunal hearing recently. A decision is expected in a matter of days.
NextEra has several wind projects in the area, including the massive 92-turbine Jericho project. The two projects are next to each other and that means they can share resources, according to Vaillant.
“The transmission lines combined into one single line instead of two,” he says. “That will minimize the overhead lines…We’ll be taking advantage of the infrastructure that is already there…We don’t have to do any construction on the second line.” He adds that will be “less intrusive” on the landscape.
Valliant says the partnership will also mean they will be able to use NextEra’s connection point to Hydro One.
All this will save Suncor cash. “This is about creating efficiencies for everyone,” says Vaillant. “You always look to produce the best project in a way that makes sense to the community. This was an option for us and made commercial sense.”
Wind energy is highly subsidized by the provincial government and the projects are seen as lucrative but companies such as Suncor – whose main business is oil – are in cost cutting mode because the price of crude is dropping.
Aside from the current business climate, Vaillant says it is normal to find ways to keep costs down. “Any business look to be efficient and effective as possible and looks at any opportunities.”
Vaillant says Suncor will be “overseeing the development process” and NextEra will “provide operational support and maintain services for the facilities.” But he says Suncor will still have a hand in the operation of the wind energy centre with a representative on site.
“We’re going to be involved continue to be a partner in this and visible in it,” says Vaillant. “This isn’t about us going anywhere.”
Suncor has already begun some of the preliminary construction work on the Cedar Point project. Vaillant says survey crews have been out working and some access roads are being built as the company waits to hear the outcome of the ERT hearing.
“We haven’t done any component movement that will happen in the spring,” he says adding the company is just in the beginning stages of construction.
He says some of the most obvious work, moving the turbines to the site, won’t happen until the spring. “That’s one of the things we are going to be very out there on, transparent and share that with the community because it can be some impact on local traffic,” says Vaillant. “We’re going to share what it looks like once were at that stage.”
Suncor has already sent out a bulletin to homeowners within two kilometers of the project explaining what is going on.
And he says for now the company is on track to finish construction this fall.