Last Wednesday residents had a chance to view a wind power project that is considering Kitimat as the destination for its power.
And it was views that were a concern for the local Naturalist club.
Katabatic Power proposes to install 234 wind turbines on Banks Island, 150 kilometres west of Kitimat.
If Kitimat is chosen as the destination for the power produced, a transmission line would run up the Douglas Channel and connect with the BC Transmission Corporation lines here, explained Katabatic president and CEO Tony Duggleby.
The line would look similar to the one which runs between Kitimat and Terrace and would have some visual impact on the coast of the Channel, Duggleby admitted while describing the project to Dennis Horwood of the Kitimat Valley Naturalist Society.
Horwood described the Douglas Channel as some of the most pristine coastline in the world. While in favour of the wind farm, he expressed his fears of any development along the coast of the Channel.
“I understand, but how do you balance Not In My Backyard against green energy,” Duggleby replied.
He added that the approximately 60 ft. poles will be visible in places along the coast but hidden by trees in others.
Horwood also voiced concern that expanding the line between Kitimat and Terrace to take the Katabatic power might also allow Alcan to sell more power.
But Duggleby assured him that if Katabatic resulted in a line capacity increase to Terrace, his company would hold rights over that capacity.
Explaining the project, Duggleby said it will come on in two phases. To begin with 350 megawatts of power will be produced by 2009 followed by an additional 350 mw in 2011.
But the current line from Kitimat to Terrace is a smaller 287 megavolt line so an upgrade of the line would need to take place. “If there needs to be an upgrade we will have to take in the costs,” he said, “and so would BC Hydro.”
The upgrade would consist of adding more wires to the existing line, he added. “We would like to see the energy get to Terrace,” Duggleby stressed, explaining Terrace is the terminus of a large 500 mv line.
That said, he noted it is legal for an independent power producer to sell to a major industrial user, such as Kitimat LNG or any other large-scale potential consumer along the line.
But power cannot be sold to a large volume of small consumers.
Yet another possible market emerges if Hwy 37N is electrified, Duggleby said.
“Frankly this area is going to be using a lot of energy,” he pointed out, a reference to the planned mines in that area.
While Prince Rupert, another possible delivery point for the wind farm power, is closer to Banks Island than is Kitimat, Duggleby said the line between Prince Rupert and Terrace is again a smaller one.
But given the distance between Prince Rupert and Terrace, the costs of upgrading that line would be significantly higher than a Kitimat-Terrace upgrade.
As for the preferred transmission line route to Kitimat, Duggleby explained it will cross to the Mainland and begin to follow the Douglas Channel coastline at Kitkiata Inlet.
Most likely the line would run underwater around the Foch-Gilttoyees region and skirt around the back of Jesse Lake.
As for the wind farm’s output, the 234 turbines up to 300 feet tall will generate enough electricity to power approximately 280,000 homes .
Katabatic expects the turbines will be in operation between 70 and 85 per cent of the time. They begin generating power at wind speeds of 11 km an hour and would shut down at 90 km per hour to prevent any damage.
The ideal wind speed for maximum power production is 54 km.
Noting the company will conduct studies on the potential impacts to wildlife habitat, archaeological resources, geology and First Nations land use, Duggleby said it has already begun discussions with First Nations groups.
The project has entered an environmental assessment review, which will be conducted jointly by federal and provincial staff.
As for an agreement with BC Hydro, Duggleby said the company is waiting for BC Hydro’s open call for power, which is when the utility asks private investors to submit proposals for power-producing projects.
Duggleby said the open call will occur later this year, but discussions with BC Hydro have already begun.
Although Katabatic executives were the ones presenting the project to Kitimatians, the Banks Island project is actually being put together by North Coast Wind Energy Corp – a joint venture between Katabatic and Deutsche Bank AG, a German-based bank with assets in at least 35 different countries.
Katabatic has offices in San Francisco and Richmond, BC.
If you want to learn more about the Banks Island project log on to www.katabaticpower.com.
To contact the proponents, e-mail email@example.com or write to North Coast Wind Energy Corp., 2100-1075 W. Georgia St., Vancouver, BC, V6E 3G2.
By Ryan Calvery
23 May 2007
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