Superior Wind Energy received the long-awaited green light in late November to begin the process of building a wind farm near Sault Ste. Marie.
The company signed a long-term deal in November with the province to supply renewable energy, subject to receiving permits and approvals. The first wind turbines could be operating as early as fall 2005.
The company's two proposals, the 100-megawatt Prince Wind Farm, near Sault Ste. Marie, and 50-megawatt Blue Highlands project, near Collingwood, were among the 10 selected green-energy projects signed to 20-year deals in the first round of the province's RFP's for new energy supply.
The two projects by the company, a subsidiary of Brascan Power Corp, were considered among the most advanced in Ontario.
"We picked good spots in Ontario before the rush came and worked hard with the community," said president David Boileau, in a telephone interview from Atikokan.
Road construction into the Prince Township site from Highway 17 North on the southeastern shore of Lake Superior was scheduled to begin in early
Superior Wind was in the final stages of concluding negotiations with a turbine supplier and an engineering, procurement and construction contractor. The latter will solicit bids from sub-contractors for concrete, aggregate, road work, logging, electrical, transmission and other services and material.
"Our preference is to use as much local material and labour as we possibly can," says Boileau, who encouraged major Sault manufacturers like
Algoma Steel to present a "competitive package" to the turbine supplier.
"We're talking hundreds of thousands of pounds of steel for the towers."
For the project's initial phase, about 60 towers will be erected, each one 80 metres in height with blades extending 40 to 45 metres. The amount of energy produced annually by the Prince Windpark can power 20,000 homes.
Superior Wind has a second 100-megawatt phase in the works. Brascan, is investing $85 million to upgrade transmission lines between the Sault and Wawa to improve system reliability and power flow capacity. They are replacing existing 115 kilovolt lines with 230 kilovolt single circuit transmission lines.
Boileau says they could begin receiving turbines by August with plans to erect them immediately, with the earliest commissioning by October.
The government has agreed to pay eight cents per kilowatt-hour to Superior Wind and the other companies selected.
Queen's Park has been so enthusiastic about the response from renewable energy bidders, a second RFP is expected to be issued this month.
The company is wrapping up some geotechnical work and digital mapping to lay out the turbine locations.
Superior Wind has another potential 100-megawatt project on Manitoulin Island where they have been gathering wind data for more than two years.
They are also exploring another 100-megawatt site west of Marathon. Still in its early stages, they began conducting wind resourcing on their Wolf project two years ago and recently acquired the rights to explore the wind regime on the Crown land.
They hope to obtain a Ministry of Natural Resources work permit to erect a meteorological tower and may put forward a bid proposal by 2006 if they obtain all the necessary approvals and acquire a long-term lease option from the Crown.