Capital Power L.P. has received an environmental assessment certificate for the proposed Quality Wind Project.
Environment Minister Barry Penner and Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources Minister Bill Bennett made the decision to grant the environmental assessment certificate after considering the review led by B.C.'s Environmental Assessment Office (EAO).
The proposed $455-million project consists of the development of a 142-megawatt wind energy facility that would include 79 wind turbine generators, one substation, a 22-kilometre transmission line, access and maintenance roads, and other associated infrastructure. It is to be located approximately 10 kilometres northeast of Tumbler Ridge.
The project is consistent with the BC Energy Plan and government's commitment to reduce BC Hydro's reliance on imported electricity while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In March of this year, Quality Wind was awarded an Electricity Purchase Agreement by BC Hydro.
Local and provincial taxes over the project's 25-year lifespan will be approximately $98 million, including participation rent ($26 million), land lease payments ($7 million) and property taxes ($65 million). The two-year construction phase is expected to generate an average of 170 person-years of full-time direct employment. The operational phase of the project is expected to generate 300 person years of employment.
The EAO Assessment Report concluded the project is not likely to have significant adverse effects, based on the mitigation measures and commitments included as conditions of the environmental assessment certificate. The provincial certificate contains 101 commitments the proponent must implement throughout various stages of the project. Key commitments include the following:
* Bird and bat fatality monitoring must be conducted for the first two years of operation, with annual evaluation of the results and application of additional mitigation if required.
* Pre-clearing surveys must be conducted by qualified professionals to mark no- disturbance zone boundaries around the wildlife features, at-risk plants and plant communities. An old growth management area and wetlands will be avoided within the project footprint.
* During construction, a qualified environmental professional must oversee the mitigation that addresses turbidity levels of watercourses, any discharges to watercourses, deleterious material spill prevention, fish salvage and any disturbance within a riparian management area.
* First Nations and Aboriginal communities must be consulted in the selection of site- specific mitigation and monitoring of traditional-use sites during construction, and if required, during operation.
Before the project can proceed, the proponent will still need to obtain the necessary provincial licences, leases and other approvals.
The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency determined that a federal review would not be required because there was no federal review trigger for the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.
The Doig River, Halfway River, Prophet River, Saulteau, and West Moberly First Nations, and the McLeod Lake Indian Band were consulted on the assessment and the Province is satisfied the Crown's duties to consult and accommodate First Nations interests have been discharged as they relate to the decision to grant the environmental assessment certificate.
More information on the environmental assessment certificate can be found at www.eao.gov.bc.ca