THUNDER BAY – The next steps forward have come via the ratification vote at Monday’s City Council Meeting for the Big Thunder Wind Farm. Today, Horizon Wind Inc. announced that the company will continue its public consultation process for the Big Thunder Wind Park by hosting two additional public meetings this spring. The dates of the public meetings regarding a proposal to engage in a renewable energy project were announced as follows: Tuesday May 17th, 2011- Blake Community Hall and Wednesday May 18th, 2011 at the Fort William Country Club. Both meetings will be held from 6-9PM.
Spokespersons for the company are not available to the media at present to answer questions. However in the announcement of the public meetings have offered the following F.A.Q:
Below is a list of the frequently asked questions with corresponding answers. Responses to the questions have been provided by the project management team at Horizon Wind Inc. and are their statements.
1. Why is Horizon Wind hosting more public open houses?
Horizon Wind has continued to be transparent and accessible to the public regarding the proposed Big Thunder Wind Park project, wherever possible. The Horizon Wind team is pleased to be able to return to the City of Thunder Bay and the Municipality of Neebing this spring to provide further information to the community and answer any reasonable questions. Horizon Wind fully supports the commitment of the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) to maintain an open dialogue with the public and Ontario’s electricity stakeholders in the implementation of the Renewable Energy Approval (REA) process. Horizon Wind is equally responsible to meet with stakeholders to share the company’s intentions and to provide opportunity for public comment and expressions of support. Horizon Wind’s Open House events will provide Thunder Bay residents an additional opportunity to ask questions and learn about the project. Moreover, detailed information about the findings of the REA studies and the Big Thunder Wind Park Project will be made available. The latest schedule of Open Houses will further complement the previous Open Houses hosted by Horizon Wind. To date, Horizon Wind has hosted four Open Houses in the City of Thunder Bay and Municipality of Neebing on: May 21, 2008 September 28, 2009 August 23, 2010 August 24, 2010.
2. What is happening with the City litigation?
Legal representatives for Horizon Wind and the City of Thunder Bay have been working through a process to achieve a positive resolution for both parties. The goal was to find a win-win situation for both parties. On Monday, April 11 the City ratified a vote allowing the project to advance.
3. What will happen to the four turbines that have been under dispute?
Two of the four turbines will remain as part of the proposed Big Thunder Wind Park project. Horizon Wind Inc. and the City of Thunder Bay have reached a compromise regarding the other two turbines. The compromise involves finding alternative locations for the remaining two turbines.
4. Why are you changing the nameplate capacity and turbine model for the project?
With respect to the Big Thunder Wind Park project, Horizon Wind is increasing the nameplate capacity for each turbine from 1.5MW to 2MW. This will not increase the height of the turbines. The increase of the nameplate capacity will permit Horizon Wind to build the first 16.5MW with only 8 turbines instead of the proposed 11. In other words, Horizon will be able to build a given amount of MW with fewer turbines. The model of turbine is Enercon E-82, with a 2.0 MW capacity, with a maximum height of 139 metres.
5. How have the questions and concerns brought up by previous open houses been addressed?
The questions submitted at all of the Horizon Wind Open Houses have been carefully read, grouped by subject and responded to via the Big Thunder Wind Park website. They will also be distributed on fact sheets at Horizon Wind’s next public information session (open house). It should be noted that any questions with inappropriate content such as profanity, vulgarity or harassment have not been responded to.
6. What is the project’s timeline/schedule?
There are many stages of development before a wind farm can be approved and constructed. #1- Finalize the REA studies: Environmental studies as part of the REA process have been conducted to identify any impacts on landscape, plants and wildlife, soil and water, land use or other activities such as aviation and telecommunications. Where potential negative impacts have been identified, mitigation measures have been proposed. #2- Complete the permitting process and public consultation: As with any other power project, developers must seek municipal, provincial and federal permits where applicable. They also meet the local communities to present the project, solicit their feedback and seek community support. #3- Construction: This stage will start when the project gets its green light. During this stage, local companies will mostly participate in the construction of the wind farm. The overall process consists of a manufacturing stage off-site and a construction stage on-site and can usually be done within a year. The works consist in these three main tasks: site preparation (spring), construction (summer) and commissioning (fall).
7. Was the REA application rejected?
In the Renewable Energy Approval process, before the Ministry of Environment does their full review of a project (the outcome of which is to issue, renew, amend, or reject an application) they need to make sure the application being submitted by the developer is complete. To do so, they run all of the reports through their checklists to determine if anything is missing; this is called a “Pre-Submission Completeness” review. If the package is complete then they post it to their registry and begin their full technical review of the application. However, it is a common occurrence to have the initial application sent back to the developer. In most cases, and in Horizon Wind’s case, it is because more information on a certain aspect is needed. This is the purpose of the “Pre-Submission Completeness” review.
8. What is the status of the REA?
The Renewable Energy Approval process is underway. Today, the revised REA reports have been released to the public, available at four locations in the City of Thunder Bay and Municipality of Neebing, as well as on-line. Horizon Wind Inc. invites the population to comment on the reports and provide their input.
9. Where do I send my comments and concerns?
You can send your questions via our website (24/7), or meet representatives from Horizon Wind Inc. and ask them your questions directly at the next Open House. You can also make comments through the MNR public consultation process. The commenting period for the project has been extended until May 18th, 2011.