Thunder Bay wind farm gets government approval

Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment has ruled that a wind park development proposed for the Nor’Wester Mountains in Thunder Bay, Ontario, meets the government’s requirements under the Green Energy Act. The proposed development, to be built by Horizon Wind, will see up to sixteen wind turbines installed on land owned by the city of Thunder Bay. Big Thunder Wind Park will potentially produce 32 MW of electricity, enough for more than 9,000 homes. It will be connected to the power grid through the Ontario Power Authority’s Feed-in Tariff (FIT) program.

Falcon-Horizon-Wind-Thunder-Bay-EDIWeekly
An ad run by Horizon Wind showing that environmental concerns about Big Thunder Wind Park were groundless.

The public has 60 days in which to express concerns and comments, after which the ministry will make its final ruling. There is opposition to the project. The head of a group called the Nor’Wester Mountain Escarpment Protection Committee, John Beals, expressed his group’s disappointment in the government’s approval of the Horizon’s bid. He said the required Environmental Assessment presented by Horizon Wind was inadequate and should be discounted. His group will fight the project, claiming that the land in question cannot be used for industrial development. However a poll taken by Horizon in 2012 found that two-thirds of the residents of Thunder Bay were in favour of the wind farm.

Horizon Wind says that the Nor’Wester site is ideal for a wind farm, having excellent wind resources and proximity to existing electrical lines. Less that 2 per cent of the land in the project area will be used, the company says, the rest remaining “forested and untouched.”

The turbines will be 139 metres high, and will produce electricity at 600 volts which, Horizon Wind says, is 40 times lower than existing voltages running past people’s homes. The nearest home is 1.1 kilometres from the site.

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