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Open house

Suing the city for $126 million was like going to a parent during a sibling rivalry the head of a controversial proposed wind farm says.
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Anthony Ziwg, centre, listens to comments Tuesday evening at Blake Hall (Jamie Smith, tbnewswatch.com)
Suing the city for $126 million was like going to a parent during a sibling rivalry the head of a controversial proposed wind farm says.

Horizon Wind’s Anthony Zwig, speaking publicly for the first time since his company entered into a lawsuit with Thunder Bay last December before a compromise was ratified by city council in April, said the litigation was unfortunate but it did its job by finding a compromise. Zwig said nobody wants to get involved in litigation.

"It’s a little bit like if you have a fight with your sibling. You try to settle it yourself and in the end if you can’t you go to your parent," Zwig said Tuesday afternoon before the first of two Renewable Energy Application open houses. "This is the higher authority that’ll just make a decision so that’s what the litigation was really about."

Zwig also speculates that Mayor Keith Hobbs’ opposition, one of four councillors to vote against the compromise, had more to do with politics than it did with the actual project. In talks with Horizon before he was mayor, Zwig said Hobbs appeared to see some merits in the project.

"I think a lot of it was grandstanding," he said. "You get into the election or the silly season and I think that (opposition) was still some of that momentum."

Zwig said he thinks opposition from the Nor’Wester Mountain Protection Committee to the proposed project, which would initially see eight turbines produce 16.5 Megawatts west of Loch Lomond, is mainly grounded by fear of the unknown. But the bottom line is that the project means jobs, money and green energy for the city.

The 16.5 MW initially required 11 turbines until Horizon discovered more efficient turbines capable of producing 2 MW per 139 metre tower. Horizon currently has a Feed-in Tariff contract for the eight turbines but its REA is for a total of 16 turbines with 32 MW. That would require new contracts with the province for the remaining eight turbines.

"It’s not something that Western society really has a choice about. You’ve heard the term peak oil I mean there really isn’t any more so the prices of that are going to escalate. We know the problems that it is causing so we have to make a switch," Zwig said.

But most questions raised by the over 120 people attending the first open house, in a large tent on the grounds of Blake Hall, were more concerned with location than green energy.

Nor’Wester Mountain Escarpment Protection Committee spokesman Mike Payne said the committee came to get answers about the project but none were given despite six Horizon representatives on-site.

"They’re very vague, they’re wide-ranging, they’re all encompassing (answers)," Payne said. "They’re doing the minimum government requirements and that’s been their standard answer all along."

Payne said NMPEC wants to know what will happen to the Nor’Wester Mountain range if the entire project is approved.

"We’d like to see the complete project. What does this project look like when it’s 100 per cent completed. No one’s ever seen that or heard that it would be very interesting to see," Payne said.

Albert Kapush, a self-proclaimed millionaire who owns 2,000 acres of land east of Loch Lomond, said he thinks the project will be good for the area.

"I think it’s a good idea. It’s clean, it’s not like coal or anything else," Kapush, 88, said. "An odd bird maybe gets killed but what the hell they’re always getting killed. People are shooting them….nobody says nothing. The government even gives you license to do it."

Kapush said Horizon had even approached him to put turbines on his land but the money wasn’t good enough. He doesn’t think the city leasing the 17,000 acres of land for the project was a good deal.

"No (it wasn’t a good deal)," Kapush laughed. " Those people in the city don’t know what they’re doing. I even told them that."

A second REA open house starts at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Fort William Country Club.




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