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46,000-acre wind farm proposed

The Ontario Ministry of the Environment is seeking public input about a proposed 130-turbine wind farm, spanning from Tilbury to Ridgetown, making it one of largest in the province.

The South Kent Wind Project, a joint proposal by Samsung Renewable Energy and Pattern Energy, includes the construction of a transmission line and two substations. The development has grown through the acquisition of other proposed wind projects in the area.

Public comments are being sought under Ontario’s Renewable Energy Approval process, which is designed to ensure human health and the environment are protected. The process is designed to include extensive municipal, Aboriginal and public consultation.

Lindsay Davidson, MOE spokesman, said the public “can write about any concerns they might have . . . it could be supportive, it could be not.”

When asked what weight the MOE gives to community input, he said public consultation is “a huge component of this process.”

The proposed wind farm covers approximately 46,000 acres from Tilbury, north to Highway 401 and south to Lake Erie. The southern boundary runs just east of Merlin, before going north to Middle Line and staying just north of Charing Cross, until it gets east of Blenheim, before running back south to Shrewsbury, and continuing east to just outside Rondeau Provincial Park. The eastern boundary extends north through Morpeth to just west of Ridgetown.

According the company’s website – www.southkentwind.ca – created for the project, the turbines will generate 270-mega watts of electricity, enough to power 73,000 homes.

The goal is to begin construction in the fall of 2012 and have it operational by early 2014.

The wind farm is expected to create 300 construction jobs and 20 permanent jobs as well as generate an annual tax revenue of about $800,000 for the municipality.

If approved, the South Kent Wind Farm will be the largest single wind farm to be constructed in Chatham-Kent, said Paul Lacina, the municipality’s director of building enforcement and licensing services.

Davidson said it would also be one of the largest wind farms in Ontario.

The second largest wind energy project in the municipality is the 110 turbines that will make up the East Lake St. Clair and Erieau-Blenheim Wind Farms.

Lacina said they are two separate projects that are currently under construction at the same time.

The provincial government approves wind farms and the companies come to the municipality for road user access agreements and building permits, Lacina said.

Davidson said Samsung/Pattern Energy’s renewable energy approval application was posted on the Environmental Registry on Tuesday. He added the MOE has begun a detailed technical review, which will take approximately six months to complete.

“All comments we received during the 30-day posting period will be carefully considered in making a decision on this proposal,” he said.

Comments on the South Kent Wind Project must be directed to: Sarah Raetsen, senior program support co-ordinator, Ministry of the Environment, Operations Division, Environmental Approval’s Branch, 2 St. Clair Ave. W., Floor 12A, Toronto, Ont., M4V 1L5. Phone inquiries can be made to 416-325-3306 or toll-free at 1-800-461-6290. The fax number is 416-314-8452. Submissions must be received by March 8. Comments can also be made online at www.ebr.gov.on.ca.