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Grouse eyes renewable energy  

Resort is set to begin phase one of project that could see a wind turbine installed on the peak.

Grouse Mountain took the first steps towards becoming North Vancouver’s first source of renewable energy after council approved phase one of its wind turbine project Monday night.

District councillors voted to allow the resort to build a concrete foundation that could eventually house a 65- metre tall wind turbine.

Grouse marketing manager Chris Dagenais admits that the resort has a lot of planning left to do before they can begin generating wind power.

“The best scenario is that we would begin operation in the spring of 2009,” he said. “So far it’s encouraging; that’s why we’re pursuing it.”

The thought of generating wind energy is an enticing one for the resort. Dagenais said a standard turbine would provide a quarter of Grouse’s energy needs.

Grouse installed a weather station on the site two years ago to assess the potential for wind power. Although the results are positive, Dagenais said they still have to complete reports on what effect the turbine might have on bats and birds that migrate through the area.

“We don’t want to get people too excited because it’s still in the preliminary phase,” he said.

Now that they have won initial district approval, however, Grouse staff will be working hard on a comprehensive proposal to present to district council in the fall.

Mayor Richard Walton said he’s looking forward to seeing what Grouse will do with their proposal. He said North Vancouver has limited potential to generate power, but should Grouse’s turbine succeed, it could trigger more wind projects on the North Shore.

“The premier has been very clear with his energy policy that he’s looking to local communities and initiatives to increase the amount of power being generated,” he said.

The Grouse proposal is unique because the resort is the only private owner of high-altitude property on the North Shore, Walton said. Other wind turbines would have to be on government land where there is no infrastructure to feed on the electricity, he said.

When Grouse’s proposal comes forward it will be put to the public for input. Walton said that while he generally supports the pursuit of renewable energy resources he’s not sure which way residents will lean.

“I’m not sure how the community is going to respond, you get a wide range of responses to these kind of projects,” he said. “There’s a lot of concern about the visual impact on any landscape.”

The turbine foundation will be built in a rocky area near the top of the Olympic chair at Grouse’s peak. Dagenais said most of the North Shore wouldn’t be able to see the “iconic” structure but further out in Metro Vancouver the turbine could be seen.

“It will be visible but not inescapable,” he said. “It looks like from the location we chose it won’t be visible in most parts of the district.”

The 178 square metre foundation would be turned into an interpretive centre if the power project falls through.

By Scott Neufeld

North Shore Outlook

18 June 2008

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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