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Fighting rising costs with wind power - Exploits water plant committee attempting to supplement energy costs with windmill

Two windmills could save the region almost a million dollars over the course of 20 years.
Two windmills could save the region almost a million dollars over the course of 20 years. - Submitted

GRAND FALLS-WINDSOR, NL – A windmill may be in the cards for the Exploits Valley Water Treatment Plant.

The Exploits Regional Water Supply Committee has submitted an application for funding to the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA).

“As a regional services board, our goal is to look at any cost saving measures moving forward,” said Botwood mayor and chairman of the Exploits Regional Water Supply Committee Scott Sceviour. “The services board actually supplies water to Grand Falls-Windsor, Bishop’s Falls, Botwood, Northern Arm, and Peterview. So, of course, any way we can bring down the cost in any way, shape, or form allows us to not pass that along to the residents in the communities that we’re integrated with.”

Sceviour said that they spend between $70,000 and $80,000 per year on electricity, and that one 50-meter windmill would supply half of that electricity volume. The cost of purchasing and installing one windmill is estimated to be roughly $400,000.

“We would be looking for two windmills,” said Sceviour. “And that would basically offset the costs that we’re incurring now.”

Sceviour said he is fearful of spiking electricity costs as Muskrat Falls comes online, which would mean an increase in water tax throughout the integrated communities.

“We haven’t heard if it’s going to be approved or not,” said Sceviour of the application to ACOA. “But they’re looking at it. We’ll seek out other funding opportunities as well relating to that, but at the end of the day we haven’t gotten anything back saying they wouldn’t look at it.”

He noted that there is no timetable for a formal response from ACOA, but that he’s hopeful to hear something definitive this spring.

Sceviour said it would take roughly six to eight years to recover the upfront cost of a windmill, but added that the life expectancy of such a windmill would be 20 years. Funding, from ACOA or elsewhere, would significantly reduce the amount of years it would take to recoup the cost. He also said he would like to have the windmills operational before any potential hike in electricity and water costs.

“At least that would give us an idea of where we stand at current rates,” Sceviour said. “If we could sustain that, then we would basically keep our water costs at the level that they’re at right now. So, that’s our goal.”

The price of chemicals has risen over 30 per cent since 2017, something the chair of the board said contributed to rising costs overall.

“If the rates were to stay as they are today, we would save roughly around $70,000 to $80,000 a year after year eight. Two windmills would leave us to be able to be self-sustaining with our power consumption.”

Sceviour estimated an almost $1 million in savings over the course of the 20 year lifespan of the windmills.

“It’s a big piece of work,” Sceviour added.

Jordan.maloney@advertisernl.ca

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