A phalanx of 135-meter-high giants will start spinning next year in Paldiski, generating power for more than ten times more people than live in the town. For now town officials are appeased by a deal under which Paldiski will get 0.5 percent of the profit generated by the wind farm.
The developers of the Pakri wind farm - the biggest in the Batics - will pay the city about 64,000 euros per year under a deal signed by the former mayor, Jaan Mölder.
The Pakri peninsula where Paldiski is located currently has eight turbines, which were established back in 2004. Next May, the same company, 4 Energia will expand the number to 26 in cooperation with Eesti Energia.
Paldiski mayor Kaupo Kallas said the amount will be invested into social infrastructure.
"It's actually a fairly good result for the town, although instead of 0.5 it could of course be 5.0 percent," said Kallas.
4 Energia's Martin Kruus said it agreed to the deal, admitting that the wind turbines on the 300 hectare site would have an appreciable impact on local life.
"A justified question arises," he said, that residents should also reap benefits.
Head of Eesti Energia's Pakri project Sergei Ivanov agreed. "As the wind farm is located right in the town, this is a large site with significant spatial impact," he said.
Other such agreements are in place in municipalities such as Viru-Nigula, Noarootsi and Hanila. The first were signed in 2008 and 2009, a sign of changing attitudes and more local opposition, said Kruus, who heads the wind energy association.
"The need to engage in cooperation with locals is all the greater, as without cooperation it is not possible to add more wind turbines," he said.
Paldiski has a population of 4,000. When all 26 turbines are churning, they will supply power to 55,000 households.