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First Nations give wind project a boost

Plans are underway for 33 wind turbines to be built on MacLean Mountain on Manitoulin Island by January 2012.

Mnidoo Mnising Power and Northland Power announced Thursday their equal business partnership on Northern Ontario Wind Project.

“Today is a good day, and also a historical day. Today marks the first ever First Nations private sector partnership in renewable energy that sets a new bar for aboriginal private sector partnerships in the future,” said Chief Joe Hare of M’Chigeeng First Nation.

“We are not merely participants in this project, but owners. We have assumed half the risk and, of course, half the reward.”

Initially, the United Chiefs and Councils of Mnidoo Mnising, a tribal council based on and around Manitoulin Island, was opposed to the project. However, during the required consultation and accommodation review process, the tribal council decided to approach Northland Power for an equal partnership in the project.

Mnidoo Mnising Power company, created by the United Chiefs and Councils of Mnidoo Mnising, was formed to create renewable energy projects on its territory.

Northland Power, in business since 1987, develops, owns and operates green power generation projects in Ontario, Quebec and Saskatchewan.

The Manitoulin project will generate 60 megawatts of renewable energy and generate enough electricity for 17,500 homes, saving more than 155,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually. With government incentives, the project is eligible to receive additional payment per kilowatt-hour of energy produced.

WIND

Wind power is a growing alternative to electricity and Northern Ontario is finding ways to explore this resource. Sault Ste Marie constructed a wind farm, Prince Wind Farm, in 2006 with 126 turbines.

The new project is located between McLean’s Mountain and Honora Bay Ridge on Anishinabek of Mnidoo Mnising Traditional Territories.

“We have been scouting out for sites since 2000 and have been recording data since 2001. MacLean Mountain is a great spot to have a wind farm in Ontario,” said John Brace, president and CEO of Northland Power.

The company also said the community around the proposed wind farm is generally supportive.

Brace said the project will create jobs.

“It provides benefits to the First Nations and provides good partnerships and good support to the project itself,” he said.

As the project moves ahead there will be opportunities for training and employment of First Nation residents.

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