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PRRD shoots down wind development near Dawson Creek

Peace River Regional District directors have shot down a renewable energy company’s proposal to build a small wind farm north of Dawson Creek.

At a meeting Jan. 26, the board nixed a proposal from Renewable Energy Systems Canada to construct a five-turbine wind power operation on 4.5 hectares of farmland off Sweetwater Road and 225 Road.

The company requested a exemption for a non-farm use within the province’s Agricultural Land Reserve. However, without sign-off from the PRRD, the project is unlikely to be built in its current form.

Small wind projects in the Peace Region are not without controversy. The proposal is similar to a half-dozen to come before the board in recent years. While large scale wind projects are becoming less likely with the construction of the Site C dam, small projects have proliferated under BC Hydro’s Standing Offer Program.

That program allows renewable energy projects between 100 kilowatts at 15 megawatts to sell power to the BC Hydro grid at above market rates.

It’s also created headaches for some rural areas. Renewable Energy Systems last year walked away from a seven-turbine development in Montney after opposition from the community. Opponents said the turbines would impact their rural quality of life.

Elected officials in the region have since grown skeptical of the Standing Offer projects. Some say Northeast B.C. is increasingly bearing the costs of the program.

Tumbler Ridge Mayor Don McPherson said more and more wind proposals are coming before the board, creating a need for “firm policy” on how the board evaluates wind projects.

“We seem to get them every second meeting, but it might get even worse than that in the future here,” he said.

Renewable Energy Systems’ proposal to build a wind farm near two Hutterite Colonies in the South Peace successfully passed the board, however.

In a report, the company says that of the 28 residents living near the project, 24 supported the proposal while four had no opinion.