One of the more significant economic developments Marathon has seen in several years has taken another step to being approved.
Brookfield Power‘s plan for a $250-million wind-power farm about 20 kilometres west of town could receive government approval this spring following a mandatory public review of an environmental “screening” report.
The Ottawa-area company wants to build 66 turbines on Crown land in an unpopulated area just north of Neys Provincial Park.
The turbines, each 80 metres tall and sporting three blades as long as half a soccer field, are to collectively produce up to 100 megawatts of electricity.
That‘s about half the capacity of Brookfield‘s existing wind farm just outside Sault Ste. Marie.
Brookfield project manager Ian Kerr said construction on the Marathon-area site is expected to begin in 2010, creating a maximum of 200 jobs over the 18-month construction period.
The company will likely establish an office in Marathon to be staffed by about 10 service technicians, Kerr added.
Though the network of turbines will require the construction of about 40 km of access roads, there will only be a handful of locations from the Trans-Canada Highway that will offer a view of the machines, said Kerr.
Noise isn‘t expected to be a concern because the nearest dwelling is two km away from any of the proposed turbines, Kerr said.
The environmental report does not identify any significant impact on birds or other wildlife.
Though details haven‘t been finalized, the wind farm is expected to plug into the provincial energy grid through an existing 230,000-volt transmission line.
Kerr said the turbines the company plans to use have a life-span of about 25 years. Service technicians access the hub and blades by climbing up inside the towers.
The environmental screening report can be viewed online at coldwellwind.com.
Hard copies can be obtained at Marathon town hall, Pic River First Nation band office or the Ministry of Environment office in Thunder Bay at 435 James St. S.
Public comments must be received by May 1.
By CARL CLUTCHEY
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
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