BC Hydro has signed agreements to buy electricity from three small wind projects, including the first two wind farms in the Okanagan.
The projects will add 45 megawatts of wind power and bring BC Hydro’s total wind power capacity to 700 megawatts, about four per cent of Hydro’s power generation. The new projects will provide enough electricity to power 14,000 homes.
Hydro expects construction on the three projects, owned by White Rock-based Zero Emission Energy Developments Inc., to begin in late spring or early summer. Construction is expected to take 18 months.
Wind is one of the forms of clean energy, which also includes run-of-the-river hydroelectricity, that the provincial utility has purchased to supplement its large hydro dams.
Both wind and run-of-the-river power is criticized because the projects produce electricity only intermittently.
Doug Little, BC Hydro’s vice-president of energy planning, said on wind farms produce electricity about 35 per cent of the time.
“But it is a very good fit with our hydroelectric system because we’ve got these big reservoirs. So when the wind is blowing, and all these wind farms are generating electricity, we can turn down our large-hydro generation a little bit and save the water for use when the wind is not blowing,” he said.
Little said the cost of the power, about $100 a megawatt-hour, was also competitive with other forms of new clean energy such as run-of-the-river.
Hydro has a mandate under the Clean Energy Act to make sure whatever power sources it adds keep the province’s electricity supply at 93 per cent renewable energy.
Little is confident the three new projects will be built, as they had to have permits in place before the 40-year power purchase agreements could be signed.
Each 15-megawatt project will have five turbines, 100 metres high with blades just under 50 metres long. The area that each project will encompass varies from 300 hectares to 700 hectares.
That’s much smaller than most wind farms. The 142-megawatt Quality Wind project near Tumbler Ridge has 79 turbines, and others in the world have hundreds.
The Pennask wind farm will be about 44 kilometres west of Kelowna, and the Shinish wind farm 33 kilometres southwest of Summerland. The third project is near Taylor in northeast B.C., a region that is already home to three much larger wind farms.
Alastair King, president of Zero Emission Energy Developments, said his company has financing lined up and is ready to begin construction this spring.
Zero Emission’s majority owner is Anemos Energy, based in Hamilton, Ont.
“The company was started by myself in 2007 and this is what we’ve been working toward. We are very excited. I think we will be even more excited when the turbines are turning and we are generating power,” said King.
He would not disclose a price tag for the three B.C. projects but said it was significant.
The 102-megawatt Bear Mountain Wind project near Dawson Creek, with more than twice the generation capacity, cost about $200 million.
The 15-megawatt projects did not require a full-scale review by the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office, but were scrutinized by the Ministry of Forests as part of a Lands Act review.
King said the projects will be built to mitigate effects on the environment, including those on birds and bats.
The public had raised concerns about such issues at company sessions to discuss the project.
Summerland Mayor Peter Waterman said his community has been supportive of efforts for cleaner and greener approaches to development. “This certainly fits that bill,” he said.
Other wind projects already operating in B.C. include the 144-megawatt Dokie Wind Energy project near Chetwynd and the 99-megawatt Cape Scott Wind Farm on the northern tip of Vancouver Island.
The 185-megawatt Meikle Wind project near Tumbler Ridge is under construction and is slated to start producing power in late 2016.
Another project, the 100-megawatt Isle Pierre Wind Project near Prince George, just entered the environmental review process.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding