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Tumbler Ridge wind project approved

A proposed $130-million wind energy project near Tumbler Ridge received environmental approval from the B.C. government Thursday.

The environmental assessment certificate signed by Environment Minister Terry Lake and Energy Minister Rich Coleman was the last major regulatory hurdle for Vancouver-based Finavera Wind Energy.

“We can now move toward financing and construction of our project so that we can sell power to BC Hydro,” said Finavera CEO Jason Bak.

Bak said he expects the company to be in a position to begin construction by the end of the year. The 33-turbine project is expected to be operational by the end of 2013.

Bak said the environmental assessment certificate is the last major regulatory hurdle to company faced. Other licences still required include tree-felling and road use permits, he said.

An environmental assessment report concluded that the project would not result in any significant adverse environmental effects. The certificate contains 104 conditions that form legally binding requirements Finavera must meet. The company also has two impact/benefit agreements with first nations in the region, he said.

The company intends to build the wind farm eight kilometres south-west of Tumbler Ridge. B.C. has three operating wind farms, all of them in the province’s northeast.

Bak described Tumbler Ridge, on the east side of the Rocky Mountains, as an ideal wind farm site. “Tumbler Ridge is fortunate. It has the wind resource, it has the access, it has the transmission capacity. It is the perfect area to develop a wind energy project.”

He said winds are consistent in the area, blowing day and night. The winds are more seasonal, he said, blowing stronger in the winter – a time when freezing reduces the output from B.C.’s hydroelectric resources.

The project is expected to generate 49.6 megawatts of energy, enough to supply 18,000 homes.

Finavera was awarded the energy contract by BC Hydro in a 2010 competitive bidding process.