A $40 million wind power project proposed for near Summerland hopes to begin operation in 2013.
Shinish Creek wind power is an initiative to construct and operate a small-scale 15 MegaWatt project to sell power to BC Hydro. An open house on Wednesday to introduce the project at the Summerland library allowed the public a chance to ask questions.
“We are concerned about the number and kinds of birds that will be affected by this project,” said Jim Bryan, chair of the conservation committee with the South Okanagan Naturalist Club. “Our main focus will be on the avian and mammalian fauna that will be affected by the project and we will want to know what kinds of things are going to be done to limit the impact on birds and bats in the area. We are encouraged they are doing evaluations before the project goes ahead, if it does. We presume that if the impacts are predicted to be serious enough that this project will not go ahead.”
A consultant team hired by the developer has undertaken a number of surveys including remote bat acoustic monitoring and bat netting, amphibian surveys, terrestrial habitat and vegetation, breeding birds and fall bird migration. Because the project is less than 50 MW, the company does not have to go through the B.C. Environmental Assessment Agency, meaning the surveys do not have to be public. If the licence is issued, the documents may then become public through the freedom of information act.
Zero Emission Energy Developments (ZED) is the private company behind the project that will be located 30 kilometres west of Summerland on Crown land and supply enough electricity to power approximately 5,000 homes. ZED is a B.C.-based renewable energy company that develops wind power projects ranging in size from 15 to 150 MW. It holds investigative use permits and licences of occupation for the project issued to them by the Ministry of Natural Resources. ZED is also proposing to construct and operate a wind power project at Pennask East, approximately 30 km northwest of Peachland.
Alastair King, president, CEO and founder of ZED, said there will be a below-ground electrical collector system between the Shinish Creek wind turbines and an above-ground collector system to BC Hydro’s transmission lines, which will be approximately 38 km.
“The proponent, which is what we are referred to as, are responsible for the cost of the interconnection right up to hooking up the physical cable,” said King, “Any upgrades required on the BC Hydro lines, we are responsible for anything over a certain dollar amount. So BC Hydro is committed to upgrading $150 per KW up to a certain amount, anything over that we are responsible as well.”
ZED also plans on doing some upgrades to existing logging roads to access the site, which has been logged previously. King said they are pursuing the BC Hydro standing offer program which has a number of requirements that the developer of the small energy project must meet.
Construction of Shinish Creek is estimated to take six to eight months and will employ approximately 30 to 40 people. King said annual maintenance is also required on the turbines which are expected to operate for 25 years.
Summerland resident Al Tinka said he came to the open house on Wednesday out of general interest and wanting to know what kind of environmental impacts the project would have on birds, the natural plant-life in the area and the impact the turbines have on airflows and wind patterns.
“Nowadays when these kinds of projects are undertaken there are so many regulations, assessments and so many hoops that the proponents of the project have to jump through that if the project works that should pretty much satisfy everyone’s concerns,” said Tinka. “I anticipate that if they do fulfill all the requirements for a project of this size and nature they will have to get so many permits and assessments of every imaginable kind that everyone’s concerns will be addressed and satisfied.”