Solar farm backers get paddled for claiming Indigenous support news
Starwood Energy Group is sent back to the drawing board after prematurely claiming its proposed energy project is backed by First Nations Representatives of a
Connecticut-based private equity investment firm got their backsides paddled at Monday's city council meeting for prematurely claiming First Nations support for a proposed
445-hectare hybrid energy facility near Sault Ste. Marie Airport. "We take consultation with Indigenous partners in Sault Ste. Marie very seriously," newly elected Ward 3 Coun.
Angela Caputo told representatives for the Starwood Energy Group solar farm/battery energy storage proposal. "Saying that you have someone's approval to try and sway a
council... is really serious. At the next meeting, if you're able to come, I would really like to see clearly if you have support, or if we're just going to take that out," Caputo
said. As SooToday reported over the weekend, a slide deck prepared for Monday's city council meeting stated in bold, underlined lettering: "The project currently has the support
of PUC Inc. and First Nations." But representatives for the Starwood Energy Group proposal had little evidence to support those claims when challenged by city councillors, who
were also concerned about secrecy surrounding the project's exact location. "We are right now working with Missanbie Cree," said Starwood vice president Anik Gandhi, who
added: "And then we intend to reach out to Batchewana and Garden River bands. We have provided them with information on the project similar to what we've provided you guys
as well." Asked then whether Missanabie Cree First Nation has given full support, Gandhi said: "I can't define it as full support right now. We don't have anything officially in
writing but we're working with them to obtain that." "So I'm not clear," said Ward 5's Corey Gardi. "Have you gotten consent or support from Batchewana First Nation and Garden
River First Nation? Yes or no?" "No. We have not gotten consent," Gandhi replied. "We have a number of First Nations communities in our area," Coun. Gardi said. "I don't feel that
what you stated and underlined in your presentation is an accurate representation of the support that you had. That's playing a big part in the reason why I won't be supporting
this." Ward 5 Coun. Matthew Scott said he "absolutely" supports the concept of renewable energy, but he needed more information before he could support the Starwood project. Ward
2's Lisa Vezeau-Allen asked about Starwood's claim to having PUC support for it's proposal. "I don't believe we have something in writing, but we've been in discussions with them,"