The Ontario government’s moratorium on offshore wind energy projects won’t affect on a proposed wind energy project on Manitoulin Island.
That’s because the moratorium does not include wind projects on land, which is what the proposed 60-megawatt Wind Farm Project involving Northland Power Inc. and Mnidoo Mnising Power are looking at developing on McLean’s Mountain is about.
“It doesn’t affect it at all,” said Chief Joe Hare of M’Chigeeng First Nation.
The McLean’s Mountain project, announced the day before the moratorium, is a 50/50 partnership between Mnidoo Mnising Power and Northland Power.
Mnidoo Mnising Power is a company formed by the United Chiefs and Councils of Mnidoo First Nations, which is a tribal council based on and around Manitoulin Island and consisting of members such as Sheguiandah First Nation, Whitefish River First Nation and M’Chigeeng First Nation.
Under the terms of the project, the partners will build 33 wind turbines to operational by January 2012.
The 60 megawatts of electricity generated annually is enough to meet the power needs of 17,500 homes.
With government incentives, the project, located between McLean’s Mountain and Honora Bay Ridge, is eligible to receive additional payment per kilowatt hours of energy produced.
The project is also expected to provide opportunities for training and employment of First Nation residents.
Hare said that the $175-million to $200-million project, which Mnidoo Mnising Power will fund half through borrowing, will create 20 to 30 permanent jobs and 50 construction jobs.
“You have to clear the area and build roads. There’s lots of work in preparing the site.”
On Thursday, John Bruce, president and chief executive officer of Northland Power, said McLean’s Mountain is a “great spot” to have a wind farm in Ontario.
The partnership could expand to include future renewable energy projects on the UCCMM First Nations’ traditional territory such as solar, hydro, gas or electrical infrastructure projects.
Northland, meanwhile, owns or has an economic interest in nine power projects totalling more than 1,050 megawatts. Its assets include natural-gas fire plants, which produce electricity and steam, as well as facilities generating renewable energy from wind, solar and biomass. The company has been in business since 1987.
Hare said the most difficult part of the McLean’s Mountain project may turn out to be getting provincial approval.
“We have been working on our own (energy) project (on M’Chigeeng First Nation) for several years,” he said. “We are still coming up against government conditions and dealing with red tape. It’s not easy by any means.”
On Friday, the McGuinty government said it will not approve any offshore wind projects and will not new applications until there is further scientific research on the industry.
The province said it will terminate one contract with Windstream Energy for a 300-megawatt offshore wind project near Kingston, off Lake Ontario.
Four other applications will be terminated, a government spokeswoman said, and application securities returned to the developers.
Ontario Environment Minister John Wilkinson said in a statement that offshore wind on freshwater lakes is a recent concept that requires a cautious approach until the science of environmental impact is clear. In contrast, he said, the science concerning land-based wind is extensive.
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