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Mega wind farm proposed for Mattawa region

Wind farming could be coming to the Mattawa region.

Quebec-based company Innergex Renewable Energy is proposing to build a 150 megawatt wind farm on Crown land in Mattawan Township. The project is called Nodinosi Energy Partnership because the wind farm will be a cooperative effort between Innergex and the Algonquins of Pikwàkanagàn First Nation, who are located near Pembroke. Nodinosi means “Spirit of the Wind” in Algonquin. Innergex currently operates six wind farms in Canada and the United States.

According to the Innergex website, the Mattawan wind farm could consist of 50 to 60 towers. François Morin, senior advisor of public affairs for Innergex, says “The number of turbines is, for now, preliminary.” If the Mattawan wind farm project of this magnitude is approved, it would likely mean “about 300 jobs during the years of construction. There are also a few permanent jobs during the lifespan of the project for operation and maintenance purposes,” Morin says.

When asked how a large wind farm might impact the local economies of Mattawan and Mattawa, Morin replies “Our experience in developing and operating wind farms in other parts of Canada provides many examples of harmonious coexistence between a large variety of usages near wind farms. Hunting and fishing are not affected by the presence of wind turbines and road access improvements have opened new territories to a variety of activities like snowmobiles, cross-country skiing and camping.” Morin does admit that the turbines will be visible not only in Mattawan but possibly even from the Town of Mattawa itself.

Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli and former energy critic for the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario, says the Mattawan wind farm proposal is a very bad idea.

“This province is currently producing more power than it needs. At the same time, the Wynne government is paying three times as much to wind farms operators for the power they produce than we can get back from Quebec or the United States to take it off our hands. That loss gets added to the Ontario customer’s electricity bill.”

A recent report by the Ontario Auditor general estimates that Ontario has already taken a loss of $1.8 billion from selling surplus power out of the province.

Fedeli says building wind farms on Crown land is just a new way to avoid local opposition.

“When the Liberal government originally passed the Green Energy Act (2009), it stripped away a local municipality’s right to oppose a wind farm in their community. After there was a backlash from the public, the Wynne government switched over to licencing wind farms on Crown land because there is no local municipal government to protest.”

Innergex Renewable Energy will be holding a public consultation on the proposed Mattawan Township wind farm on Feb. 23, at 6 p.m., at the Mattawa Senior Citizens Club, on Poplar Street in Mattawa.