BC approves wind, hydroelectric renewable energy projects
The British Columbia government has granted environmental assessment (EA) certificates to five run-of-river hydroelectric power plant facilities in the province's Upper Harrison and Stave River watersheds. Vancouver-based Cloudworks Energy received approval for the facilities to be located on two sites upstream of Harrison Lake and on three sites in the upper Stave River Watershed following a comprehensive review led by BC's Environmental Assessment Office (EAO).
The company's proposed project will provide clean, reliable electricity to approximately 40,000 homes, including the Douglas First Nation communities of Tipella and Port Douglas.
"The environmental certification is a major step toward providing reliable, clean energy and jobs to communities currently running on diesel generators," said Nick Andrews, principal and director of Cloudworks Energy.
Cloudworks Energy was a successful bidder in the government's 2006 Call for Power, through which BC Hydro this summer awarded power purchase agreements (PPAs) to independent power producers for 39 innovative and diverse projects throughout the province.
"Thirty seven of these qualify as BC Clean generation projects, and that shows that B.C.'s 2002 Energy Plan is working," said Richard Neufeld, Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources. "To date, 80% of all new electricity being generated in the province is BC Clean," he added.
BC Clean refers to electricity generated from resources and facilities built in BC whose environmental impact is less than that of conventional generation sources and technology.
The provincial EA certificate follows a joint, comprehensive review by the EAO and federal agencies. The EA certificate sets out 40 commitments to be implemented by Cloudworks during various phases of the project. These include mitigation measures to protect fish and wildlife habitat, the protection of areas of cultural significance to the Douglas First Nation, the development and implementation of compensation and monitoring programs, and the appointment of an environmental monitor.
Having been granted the provincial EA certificate, Cloudworks Energy can now receive decisions on provincial licenses, leases, federal authorizations and other approvals required before the project can proceed.
An EA certificate has also been granted to Victoria-based Dokie Wind Energy for its Wartenbe wind energy project, a $140-million, 70.5-megawatt (MW) development in the Peace River region. The proposed site is on Wartenbe Ridge, approximately 10 km southeast of Chetwynd.
The environmental assessment concluded the project will have no significant environmental, social or health effects on the surrounding area. The provincial EA certificate contains 22 environmental management plans and 54 commitments that the company must carry out during the various phases of the project. Some key commitments include:
*adherence with all regulatory setbacks from residences in place at the time of land tenure acquisition;
*two years of post-construction monitoring for birds and bats;
*preparation of a surface erosion and sediment prevention plan prior to construction;
*appointment of an environmental co-ordinator who will be responsible for implementing and monitoring all environmental programs; and
*continuing communication with the community of Lone Prairie, grazing tenure holders and First Nations communities.
In addition to the EA certificate, Dokie must still obtain other required provincial approvals and leases.
In August, the company received provincial environmental certification for a separate, 300-MW wind energy project on a number of high-elevation ridge tops approximately 40 km southwest of Hudson's Hope and 40 km west of Chetwynd.
The company intends to establish a joint operations control facility in Chetwynd for its Dokie and Wartenbe wind projects.
More information on the Dokie and the Cloudworks approvals is available on the EAO Web site, www.eao.gov.bc.ca.