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Canada's largest First Nation wind farm begins operation
SUDBURY -- Construction of the largest windfarm project on a First Nation in Canada is now complete.
It’s on the Henvey Inlet First Nation between Sudbury and Parry Sound, Ont.
The farm is a unique partnership between Pattern Energy Group and the First Nation, and is now producing clean electrical power using the wind.
That energy is being pumped into the Ontario electricity grid.
Frank Davis is the Canadian country head for Pattern Energy Group.
"These turbines are the largest that are constructed in North America right now. The turbine tower itself is 130 meters tall from the base to the hub and each blade is 80 meters long, so to put that into sort of everyday terms, it’s basically over two football fields tall, when you take it from the base right up to the tip of the blade," said Davis.
The wind generated power is sent underground to a nearby substation.
"Which is then transferred down the transmission line to Parry Sound, which is a 104 km transmission line running up and down Highway 69," said Justin Rutherford, the operations manager at the news Henvey Inlet facility.
87 towers are spread over a 20,000 hectare area that is home to many species at risk.
In order to protect them, officials say strict environmental protocols are in place.
Henvey Inlet First Nation Band Councillor Pat Brennan says the environmental protection put in place in the area is the best in Canada.
"We ended up with an environmental stewardship regime that has never been seen before in Canada, we will call it a 'Cadillac of environmental,' is what we have heard from industry," said Brennan.
"Obviously in this region, this wilderness, there is a lot of species, a lot of biodiversity, here that had to be protected. And so, we invested millions of dollars in ensuring the proper precautions were put in place during construction to protect these species, and those mechanisms will remain in place during operations," said Davis.
Pattern Energy and the Henvey Inlet First Nation are 50/50 partners in the project.
"We think this project is a fantastic model of private enterprise, working with a First Nation to develop a fantastic future-friendly asset like this that really benefits everyone," said Davis.
The project is expected to generate over $10 million annually for the First Nation over the next 20 years.
The band council says it plans to use some of the money to expand health and education services and improve infrastructure.
"In general terms, this long-term source of revenue really increases the quality of life within the community and in services where we are greatly lacking," said Brennan.
The cost to build the project was over a billion dollars, the largest investment ever in wind energy in Canada.