Sailboaters and cottagers on Lake Superior know all too well of the power behind the prevailing northwesterly winds that sweep across the great lake.
Now a renewable energy joint venture company seeks to harness that untapped energy by developing a wind park in some neighbouring townships just west of Sault Ste. Marie.
Superior Wind Energy Inc. is a joint venture between Brascan Power, the owners of the Sault-based utility Great Lakes Power, and Harmony Wind Energy of Atikokan.
David Boileau, an investor and the project's joint-venture lead, remains cautious about elevating popular hopes about a mega wind project for the Sault until market conditions are right.
The words contained in the March provincial budget offering incentives to build more power generation plants and promote the development of green power projects are "extremely encouraging" Boileau says, and will help push the Sault project forward.
Besides committing $20 million over five years for a technology centre for applied research and commercialization of green energy technologies, the Eves' government is proposing a 100-per-cent corporate income tax deduction for companies making new investments in generating electricity from alternative or renewable energy sources.
Boileau says the additional regulatory and legislative changes expected to come forward within a few weeks are "absolutely" critical for their proposed Prince Wind Park.
Their preliminary plan calls for a 100-megawatt wind farm project on leased 4,000 acres of private land just west of the city in Prince, Pennefather and Dennis townships.
In gathering meteorological data and conducting environmental studies in the Sault for the past year, the company, that had been scoping possible development sites across Ontario for the last few years, intends to conduct another six to 12 months of testing with a mobile Doppler technology known as SODAR.
If wind conditions prove favourable, the project could begin construction by the spring or summer of 2004.
Boileau says there is still work to do in determining the size and number of the turbine towers.
"We expect by the time we're ready to construct, the typical commercial size will be between one-and-a-half and two megawatts."
That could mean the construction of between 50 to 67 wind turbine towers.
In terms of employment, Boileau says the general rule of thumb is one construction job is created per megawatt. During the actual operations phase, 10 jobs of direct employment are created per 100 megawatts.