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Stephenville council talks wind energy project

Stephenville Mayor, Tom Rose

By Jaymie White Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

STEPHENVILLE — The most recent council meeting took place on Thursday evening, Feb. 23. Matters discussed included the introduction of the new fire chief and the wind energy project on the Port au Port Peninsula.

New Fire Chief Mayor Tom Rose welcomed new fire chief, Steve Morris, who was with the St. John’s fire department. Morris said he is happy to be in Stephenville. “The best way to jump into a new job is to be baptized by fire, and I got that here. It seems to be a tradition with me. I was only in the St. John’s fire department a few months when we had Harvey Road,” said Morris. “We had a fire here the other night, and from what I see, the professionalism within the fire department is a definite. What I witnessed the other night, what you have here, is great and I look forward to working with them and seeing where we can go, continuing to be a great department and seeing where we go from there.”

Wind Energy Project Mayor Rose said the project proposal by World Energy GH2 is a move in the right direction for the province’s West coast. “The world is changing, and we are so fortunate in the Stephenville, Newfoundland sector to have one of the best wind corridors in the world. And what’s great about the wind corridor is it’s perpetual. Investments made in hydrogen and wind farms, there’s maintenance that takes place, there’s no doubt, but that wind is perpetual unlike an oil well or a gold mine that has a shelf life and will run out over time.” Rose understands there are concerns surrounding the project. “When you look at the impact of the wind farms, just look at the province of Newfoundland and Labrador who have put in thousands and thousands of kilometres of wood roads to harvest forests. With forestry, if managed properly – and sometimes even if it’s not managed it can regenerate – forests are a renewable product also, but they have to be managed. The point is, we’ve punched a lot of roads because that was a resource that created jobs and economy for our province. It created GDP (gross domestic product) for our country, a lot of exports. Twenty-five years ago, we used to export newsprint from Stephenville to Hamburg, Germany. The plan two years from now is to ship ammonia made from green hydrogen to Hamburg, Germany,” said Rose. “When you look at the impact of these wind farms, the footprint of one turbine is only the size of an average house. If you were to compare that to an open pit mine, there would be no comparison on the impact to the environment.” The need for industry in the region is something Rose feels strongly about. “We have to have industry. Industry creates economics, creates GDP, creates jobs, and takes taxation from the corporate industry to pay for our schools, our roads, our hospitals, our military, and all the other public services we often take for granted, and we forget who pays for that. It’s the business people of our country, so this is very important and to know that all of our Indigenous leaders have signed on – and we have signed an MOU (memorandum of understanding) with World Energy in support of this as the Town of Stephenville – our Indigenous groups who are protectors of the land, have signed on to support this. So while the vast majority of people support of this wind project, we know a small minority will be against it, and that’s okay too because they do play a role. They help a higher level of due diligence on a project, but this project is important to Stephenville and the region and when so many supporters, including our Indigenous leaders, support this project, the project is right for us, it’s right for the province, it’s right for the country.”

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