6 of 10 turbines out of commission at P.E.I. wind farm, government says | CBC News

One of P.E.I.’s biggest provincially owned wind farms is operating at less than 40 per cent of its design capacity. 

The wind farm at Hermanville, near the eastern tip of the Island, came online with 10 turbines at a cost of $60 million in 2014.

On Tuesday, the P.E.I. Energy Corporation said only four of those turbines remain functional — with no reason given as to why. 

“It’s something that needs to be rectified quickly, because it’s standing in the way of our goals,” said Steven Myers, P.E.I.’s minister of environment, energy and climate action.

“When you have an asset that looks like that, that works like that, it’s really hard to convince people that this is a positive thing for their community or a positive thing for Prince Edward Island,” he said. 

P.E.I. has pledged to reach net-zero emissions from energy use by 2030, and net-zero emissions from all sources by 2040, a decade earlier than the rest of Canada.

PC MLA Steven Myers stands in front of the P.E.I. legislature to answer questions from the opposition.
P.E.I. Minister of Environment, Energy and Climate Action Steven Myers says the province has had trouble with the supplier when it comes to repairing the broken turbines. (Legislative Assembly of P.E.I. )

The P.E.I. Energy Corporation said energy production at the Hermanville wind farm for 2022-23 was about 40,000 megawatt hours — just 35 per cent of the 110,000 megawatt hours the farm produced in each of its first two years of operation.

The corporation said the non-working turbines had been offline for between 114 and 476 days.

“I think it’s bearings that are broken, and we’ve had trouble with the supplier to meet our needs,” said Myers. “They don’t seem to have a whole lot of interest in standing behind their product.”

Nearly $5M in damages claimed

In 2014, the P.E.I. government said the 10 Acciona AQ 116/3000 class turbines in Hermanville were the first of their kind commissioned in North America.

According to the P.E.I. Energy Corporation, Acciona signed a 15-year service and warranty agreement with the province, guaranteeing the turbines would be operational and able to generate power 97 per cent of the time through to 2029.

In 2016, according to the corporation, Acciona was acquired by Nordex USA, Inc., part of a network of companies headquartered out of Germany.

We can’t have $60-million projects go adrift. Taxpayers just shouldn’t stand for that.— Fred Cheverie

In an emailed statement to CBC, Nordex said the company is “in constant dialogue with the project owner [P.E.I. Energy Corp.] to remedy the situation as soon as possible and cannot comment further at this time.”

In a statement Tuesday, the corporation told CBC News it has claimed damage payments under its contract with Nordex totalling approximately $4.8 million.

Of that, $1.43 million for the 2022-23 fiscal year remains outstanding, but the corporation said it “doesn’t anticipate any collection issues” with those funds.

A wind turbine along a dirt road in P.E.I. with a large sign in front of it.
The value of the electricity P.E.I. is losing because of the broken turbines is between $2 and $3 million per year, says Myers. (Ken Linton/CBC)

The statement provided no further insight into the maintenance problems with the turbines, but said the corporation is “developing a plan to deal with the current operational issues with Hermanville wind farm.”

Myers estimated the value of the electricity P.E.I. is losing because of the broken turbines at between $2 to $3 million per year.

He said the fix to repair the turbines could require “a financial contribution from our end, and we may have to look at other means to recoup the costs from the company.”

Myers went on to say the province has been preparing to take the company to court, but the province provided no further information around the potential for legal action.

As of Monday, no suit had been filed in the P.E.I. court system.

‘Business risk’

In a filing with the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission in March, Maritime Electric referred to the drop in production at Hermanville as a “business risk” to the private company.

In a statement Tuesday, company president and CEO Jason Roberts said Maritime Electric has included Hermanville’s wind energy production in its own plan to reduce emissions from electricity use by 2030. 

Without most of Hermanville’s production, the company said it has had to source more energy through NB Power.

Fred Cheverie lives a short drive from the wind farm and has watched over the past 18 months as more and more of the turbines there have stopped working.

“Everybody in the area has been observing the same thing we are. They have not been functioning well at all.” 

Cheverie said he’d like to see the government reassess its wind energy strategy. 

“We can’t have $60 million projects go adrift. Taxpayers just shouldn’t stand for that,” he said. 

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button