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TimberWest looks to build wind towers to explore Island’s power potential

TimberWest is looking to see which way the wind is blowing on southwest Vancouver Island.

The forestry company has applied to the Capital Regional District for a temporary-use permit to build three 80-metre towers in the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area to “explore the potential for power generation with wind energy.”

The data collected will be used to build a business case for developing a wind farm, if wind speeds meet threshold requirements, a CRD report says.

“I think it’s great,” said Juan de Fuca director Mike Hicks. “It would be a wonderful new energy source, and if it’s in the Juan de Fuca [area], all the better.”

Vancouver Island’s first wind farm – a $300-million, 99-megawatt facility – is under construction east of Cape Scott Provincial Park on the northwestern tip of the Island. Slated to become operational later this year, the project will see 55 giant wind turbines built on 350 hectares of land.

That project’s 80-metre turbines will each have three 50-metre blades driving a 1.8-megawatt generator – enough electrical energy for 30,000 homes.

The three proposed TimberWest towers are to be located on two properties: a 3,526-hectare piece located north of Wye Lake, extending northwest to Floodwater Creek, and a 923-hectare property directly north of Bear Creek Reservoir.

The land is designated rural resource and the use is not considered inconsistent with the regional growth strategy, which, the report says, “supports opportunities for alternative energy facilities to address greenhouse-gas reduction targets.”

The proposed towers likely won’t affect surrounding properties or views because they are not near any residential or development sites. No blasting is required and only minimal clearing of vegetation will be required, the report says.

The towers would be built in areas that have been previously logged and access to the sites will be via private, gated logging roads.

“They’re just testing, but I would hope they’re testing because they think it’s got potential,” Hicks said.

The CRD board agreed to increase the height maximum to 80 metres from six and forwarded the application to a variety of potentially affected parties, including a number of provincial ministries, B.C. Hydro, Cowichan Tribes, Sooke, Pacheedaht and T’Sou-ke First Nations and adjacent land owners.

A temporary-use permit can be issued for a period of three years and renewed for another three years.

A TimberWest spokesperson did not respond to calls for comment.