May 23, 2005

Southern Manitoba farmers prepare to harvest first wind crop near St Leon

Manitoba Premier Gary Doer recently joined the tiny community of St Leon (population: 120) to officially start harvesting Manitoba's newest crop--wind harnessed through the commissioning of the province's first wind turbine generator. The first of the St Leon Wind Energy Facility's 12 test wind turbines has begun operating, under the federal government's Canadian Renewable and Conservation Expense program which will be used to verify wind resources.

Testing the rotation of the three 41-metre-long rotor blades is the final step in the construction of the first 1.65- megawatt (MW) wind turbine generator. Following a successful test phase, AirSource Power Fund, a partnership established to invest in wind energy, will oversee the construction of a total of 63 wind turbine generators which will make up Manitoba's first wind farm.

Phase 1 of construction calls for 12 turbines to be assembled within the next eight weeks, with the additional 51 turbines to start going up in October. To date, three turbines have been constructed by a 450-tonne crane. It is one of North America's largest and will travel between turbine locations to lift the final tower section and turbine blade assembly to its final position.

At 99 MW, the project is one of the largest in North America to date, covering two southern Manitoba municipalities. The $210-million project is based on Manitoba's high-quality wind regime which was confirmed through extensive wind monitoring in the southwest portion of the province.

Manitoba Hydro is purchasing the output of the St. Leon wind farm. Over the life of the project, benefits will also accrue to the provincial and municipal governments, which will reap over $30 million in taxes, and to local landholders, who will receive payments totaling more than $9 million.

Project details and images of the St Leon Wind Farm are available on-line at www.airsourcepowerfund.com.

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