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Proposed wind farm still in works

A wind farm on Wasauksing First Nation is still in the works, but whether it will generate 10 megawatts or 150 megawatts of power is up in the air.

Last fall, an environmental assessment looking at the social and environmental effects of a wind farm was commissioned for a proposed four- to six-turbine,10 megawatt wind farm, with a projected operational date of 2010.

The proposed project is a partnership between the First Nation and Toronto-based SkyPower Corporation.

Last year, Skypower also made an application to the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) to build a 150 megawatt wind farm on the island, with a operational date of late 2009. The IESO “oversees the reliable operation of the provincial electricity grid”, according to its website.

“That (the 150 megawatt wind farm) was our initial thing, it’s just the Standard Offer (provincial funding program) came along when doing that project,” said Robert Tabobondung, Wausauksing’s chief administrative officer.

He said the band started looking into the larger 150 megawatt wind farm in 2003 so it would only have to do one environmental assessment. It could take between 60 and 90 turbines to generate 150 megawatts of electricity.

The proposed 10 megawatt wind farm qualifies for the province’s Standard Offer Program, which helps, “Ontario meet its renewable energy supply targets by providing a standard pricing regime and a streamlined qualifying process for small renewable energy electricity generating project,” according to the Ontario Power Authority website. Under the program, projects receiving provincial revenue for electricity can’t generate more than 10 megawatts of power.

“We’re looking at everything,” said Mr. Tabobondung.

The IESO is assessing the proposed 150 megawatt wind farm to see “whether the transmission at the point can take the capacity,” said Martine Holmsen, IESO spokesperson.

Where on the island the 150 megawatt wind farm would go depends on wind speeds, and the results of an ongoing environmental assessment. The 10 megawatt wind farm is proposed for the centre of the Parry Island, said Mr. Tabobondung.

When asked what Skypower had planned for wind power generation on Wasauksing First Nation, spokesperson Aaron Peters said he couldn’t even confirm if it was considering a 150 megawatt or 10 megawatt project on the First Nation island.

“Our policy is, for competitive reasons, we can’t discuss that,” said Mr. Peters.

When a public meeting on the proposed projects is scheduled for is also information Mr. Peters said he can’t release. He said, though, that once Skypower has “something to release at a public meeting, we will release it to the broad public.”

The environmental assessment for the 10 megawatt project is scheduled for completion this summer.

By Sarah Bissonette

Parry Sound North Star

18 June 2008