Three days after the City of Thunder Bay moved to avert a lawsuit over a proposed wind farm, the project re-emerged as a bone of contention over confusion about what its output would ultimately be.
Horizon Wind Inc. says Big Thunder Wind Park just west of the city is to put out 36 megawatts – 18 turbines of two megawatts each – up from 1.5 megawatts.
The project originally called for 79 MW if all four phases on a leased chunk of city-owned land in Neebing Township were to be approved.
The first stage is expected to involve 16.5 MW with eight turbines.
Earlier reports said the company wants to start construction in September, if the project is approved by the province.
Wind farm opponents, who contend its turbines will be a blight on the Nor’Westers, says the 36-MW figure comes as a surprise, and has caused confidence in Horizon to go down a notch.
“It’s absolutely a large surprise. This is not the same project that we saw last year,” said Anna Marchese, a member of the Nor’Westers Mountain Escarpment Committee.
The Ministry of Environment said Thursday it learned of the proposal for 36 MW on Feb. 18.
The application “was originally for 27 MW, but it came in as 36 MW,” said ministry spokeswoman Kate Jordan.
“So (on March 11), we told them to clarify the capacity of the project so that it’s clearly communicated to the public.”
A lengthy report about the Big Thunder project, now available on Horizon’s website, cites the capacity of 36 MW. It’s dated April 5.
On Thursday, Horizon announced two open houses for next month, May 17, 6-9 p.m. at Blake Community Hall; and May 18, 6-9 p.m. at Fort William Country Club.
Horizon says its turbines won’t be larger, despite the increase in output.
A detailed April 1 memo about the wind farm from the city’s legal department to city councillors includes several figures, including the 79-MW proposal, the increase in turbine size to two megawatts from 1.5 MW and the latest plan for 18 turbines.
Though the 36 MW-figure is not specifically cited, city manager Tim Commiso said it wouldn’t have been difficult for councillors to do the math based on a plan for 18 turbines.
Mayor Keith Hobbs, who opposes the wind farm, said he only recalled the reference to 79 MW.
City council voted 8-4 Monday to approve an agreement to settle a dispute over the location of four turbines and end Horizon’s lawsuit against the city for $126 million.
An agreement to allow Horizon to lease the city land was approved in October by the previous council.
Hobbs voted against Monday’s agreement.
“I’ve never been in favour of the project,” Hobbs said Thursday. “I told the (company) they should build it somewhere else.”
More information is available at bigthunderwindpower.ca.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding