In the early 2000s, an idea took shape in the minds of leaders in St. Joseph and its surrounding community. They wanted to harness their region’s superb wind resource to bring a boost of economic activity to the area. St. Joseph Wind reflects the realization of their vision.
The facility offers an example of a community-initiated large-scale renewable energy project. Over the course of its operation, that close connection with the community has helped the project contribute in meaningful ways as a neighbour and partner.
A relationship of mutual support
The rural municipalities of Montcalm and Rhineland are home to hard-working people with a shared vision of a prosperous future. During the course of its operation, employees at St. Joseph Windfarm have built strong working relationships with the farmers, contractors and the community at large.
Facility Manager Mark Alderson credits those relationships with helping to fuel the project’s success, which in turn has made significant contributions to causes and programs in the area.
“We’re one of the most community-supported wind facilities in North America,” Mark explains.
Mark attributes the facility’s success to the support it has received from the people who live in the surrounding area.
“They’re just really good people,” Mark explains. “They are logical and understanding. We do not take their support for granted.”
Perhaps because St. Joseph Wind began as a vision of community leaders, locals take a strong interest in how things are going at the facility. “There’s a real sense in the community of ownership and responsibility,” Mark says.
A new kind of farm
St. Joseph Wind’s turbines rise above land with a rich agrarian history. The traditions established by the Francophone immigrants who first settled the region in the 1870s and 1880s are carried on today by their descendants. The decision to pursue a wind energy project reflected the community’s progressive impulse. At the same time, reaping the benefits of wind energy was a natural step.
The facility makes significant payments to its host landowners as lease payments and to the local municipalities as tax revenue. “The economic benefits create real impacts. We’ve seen improved services from the local government as a function of having a larger tax base,” Mark says.
A good neighbour
The partnerships established at the project’s outset between the community and Pattern Canada, which developed and currently operates St. Joseph Wind, have helped the facility integrate into the community to become a partner in preserving its heritage.
St. Joseph Wind’s contributions to the Musée St. Joseph Museum have been a centrepiece of that effort. Featuring a faithful reproduction of a pioneer village, the museum has grown into an important cultural centrepiece. St. Joseph Wind is proud to be an ongoing sponsor of the museum’s work.
Sponsoring local sports programs and cultural events are small but important ways the facility continues to give back to the community. When the Covid-19 pandemic hit in 2020, St. Joseph Wind sought out local organizations that needed extra support to continue serving the community through a difficult year.
“We try to be proactive and do all we can to let the community know we value being a part of it.” Mark says.