Wind power project generates learning opportunity

Lower Similkameen Indian Band completes small wind turbine project at the LSIB elementary school

A wind power project at a Keremeos area school is not only generating electricity but will be used as an educational tool.

The Lower Similkameen Indian Band small wind turbine project located at the LSIB elementary school is the first installation of its kind in the region.

“This is the first step down the road to meeting sustainable green power initiatives for LSIB,” said Chief Robert Edward. “The students will learn about renewable energy and how we can harness power from natural resources.”

The project is in partnership with Tsleil-Waututh Nation Wind Power and FortisBC. The 5kW S-343 Endurance Wind Power turbine sits atop a 120-foot tower. The turbine is connected to the electrical grid for the elementary school and took just over two months to complete. Students at the school can monitor the wind turbine and the electricity coming in from a computer.

Edward said the wind turbine is a continuation of what former chief Joseph Dennis and council had been investigating, and if the school project goes well, the community could see more going up.

“In the long term, if this goes well, we may look at powering up different areas in our community. We are always looking at alternative ways to save energy so it is sustainable,” said Edward.

TWN Wind Power is a wholly-owned company of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation based in North Vancouver. They became involved in the small wind business in February with an announcement of a $2 million investment as minority owners in Endurance Wind Power, a manufacturing company in Surrey. It was also decided at the time TWN would be a distributor of the small wind turbines.

“The Similkameen band has had a long desire to have some type of renewable energy on their land because they felt they had good wind resources. At the school it made sense for a small turbine because there is quite a bit of open area for an installation like that and just a good steady wind usually blowing through that valley,” said Marc Soulliere, CEO of TWN Wind Power. “It gives the students an opportunity to learn about renewable energy, and with the First Nations coming together on this project it just really made sense.”

According to Soulliere, small wind is different in the technical aspect from the large megawatt utility-scale turbines, which can take years to build. The LSIB wind turbine works with low wind speed and will produce upwards to 19,000Kwh per year of energy.

“That will definitely offset a portion of energy for the school,” said Soulliere.

The project also created three new jobs for members of the LSIB to maintain the equipment, and they were actively involved in the construction of the project from the trenching and foundation right to the raising of the turbine.

Soulliere said the Lower Similkameen Indian Band is the first project for TWN Wind Power but interest has been expressed from other First Nations around Kamloops, Saskatchewan, Central Ontario and Nova Scotia. Small wind turbines also can be useful for wineries, said Soulliere.

“Wineries are pretty heavy energy users. If you are in a good area for wind it would work well to offset and I think there is a lot of spinoff benefits where they could say their wine production facilities are powered by clean energy. There is definitely some green marketing aspects of this.”