The provincial government has granted an environmental certificate to British Columbia’s first wind energy project, a 120-megawatt, $240-million development proposed for a mountain ridge near Dawson Creek.
On Monday, Environment Minister Barry Penner and Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources Minister Richard Neufeld revealed the decision approving Bear Mountain Wind LP’s application to build a 57-turbine project 16 km southwest of Dawson Creek, which could pave the way for construction before October.
“It’s an important milestone,” Jim Bracken, president of the Bear Mountain partnership and senior vice-president of project partner AltaGas Income Trust, said in an interview.
Bracken added that the Bear Mountain partnership also hopes to receive an interim licence of occupation, allowing for construction on Crown land.
As well, the partnership is running the Bear Mountain project through a review by the federal Environmental Assessment Office so that it will qualify for operating credits of up to $10 per megawatt-hour under the federal Eco-energy program for renewable power projects.
The partnership already has a 25-year power purchase agreement with BC Hydro.
“This will be among the first wind power projects in British Columbia,” Bracken said.
Residents of the area have stated concerns about the project, including low-frequency turbine sounds and the siting of power transmission wires.
Doug Keith, of the residents’ group, the Community For Responsible Wind Power, did not return a call Monday.
Provincial environmental approval is still conditional on Bear Mountain Wind meeting a number of further conditions.
Besides construction of 57 wind turbine generators, the project will require building roads, installation of an underground power line linking the turbines to a new power substation and 138,000-volt overhead transmission line that hooks into the BC Hydro power grid.
By Derrick Penner, with a file from Darah Hansen
21 August 2007
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