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Officials pose for a photo in front of a wind turbine during the grand opening of the Burchill Wind Energy project in Saint John on June 6, 2023. Image: Brad Perry

Saint John wind energy project marks 1st anniversary

By Brad Perry Jun 10, 2024 | 3:00 PM

The Burchill wind energy project in Saint John is marking one full year in operation.

The 10-turbine project in Lorneville celebrated its official grand opening on June 6, 2023.

It can produce 42 megawatts of power, enough to supply up to 15 per cent of the city’s energy needs.

Ryan Mitchell, president of Saint John Energy, said they are pleased with the wind farm’s performance so far.

“As time has gone on, the availability and performance of the wind project has continued to improve and has continued to operate more consistently,” said Mitchell.

“All of these improvements were expected to evolve over the first year, so we’re certainly very pleased.”

The project is a partnership between Natural Forces, a private independent power producer, and Neqotkuk (Tobique First Nation), which is the majority owner.

The energy being produced by Burchill is being sold to Saint John Energy at a locked-in rate for 25 years.

Mitchell said the savings allowed the utility to absorb some of the 9.8 per cent rate increase from NB Power that went into effect in April.

“Instead, our residential rates increased by 9.27 per cent while general service rates increased by 6.9 per cent,” he said.

The utility’s efforts to avoid the high costs of peak energy demand also contributed to savings over the past year. Combined, the wind project and peak energy demand initiatives saved the utility more than $1.8 million.

Mitchell said Saint John Energy continues to receive favourable feedback from customers surrounding renewable energy.

The utility continues to look at more renewable energy options, he noted, which includes the use of solar energy.

“We’re having a hard look at that and would really like to update our understanding in terms of what the market price is for a small utility-scale project,” said Mitchell.

“I would say stay tuned, I’m expecting you’ll hear more from us on that shortly.”

During its AGM last week, the utility announced a new partnership with Deloitte to help it achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2030.

The Zero30 initiative has three pillars: developing a clean energy supply, innovating to help its customers, and planning for future energy demand.