Horizon Wind says it's pleased the Ministry of the Environment has determined its application for a wind park just outside Thunder Bay is now complete and can proceed to the next phase of regulatory approvals.
Horizon spokesperson Kathleen Mackenzie said the MOE has decided its renewable energy application meets the requirements of Ontario's Green Energy Act. Plans for the 32-megawatt wind farm, consisting of 16 wind turbines on the Norwester Escarpment, are now posted on the Environmental Registry and are open to public comment for 60 days.
Earlier this year, Horizon said it was preparing to ask a court to rule whether the Environment ministry had acted reasonably in its handling of the application.
"We are delighted to be one step further along in the process to bring safe, renewable, wind energy to Thunder Bay," Mackenzie said. "It doesn't surprise me, we've expected it for some time."
After the 60-day consultation period, the ministry will make a final ruling on whether the project goes ahead.
If it gets that approval, Horizon said it will start construction on the first phase of the project, which includes eight turbines.
The proposal is known as the Big Thunder Wind Park and is located in the Municipality of Neebing.
When the turbines begin producing power, Horizon said its lease payments to the City of Thunder Bay — for the land on which the turbines are located — will increase and the Neebing will collect annual property taxes for each turbine.
"The 16 megawatts of power generated from the eight turbines will help the Thunder Bay region meet future power demands," said Horizon Wind CEO Anthony Zwig.
After hearing the news on Wednesday, opponents of the project spoke out.
Irene Bond of the Nor'Wester Mountain Escarpment Protection Committee said she's disappointed.
Bond suggested the MOE and the city of Thunder Bay had been bullied by the company.
She added that she hoped Premier Kathleen Wynne would intervene to have the project cancelled. Bond noted the government promised in its throne speech that it would give local municipalities more say in the location of wind projects.