Wind power is being harnessed all over the world.

Wind power is being harnessed all over the world.

Harnessing the wind in the JdF

Wind power generation being looked at on Southern Vancouver Island, partnerships and MOU signed

  • Oct. 16, 2013 8:00 a.m.

On September 26, 2013 it was announced that TimberWest Forest Corp. (“TimberWest”) and EDP Renewables Canada Ltd. (“EDPR Canada”) have entered into a partnership and propose to develop, build, and operate large-scale wind projects on southern Vancouver Island.  TimberWest and EDPR Canada also announce that they have signed an Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) with the T’Sou-ke First Nation that envisions the potential of partnerships with the T’Sou-ke and other First Nations on wind projects.

The proposed projects present a unique opportunity to build power generation capacity on Vancouver Island, which generates only a third of its energy demand locally.  At up to 300 megawatts of capacity, the projects would provide approximately $600 to $750 million of potential investment and support hundreds of jobs on Vancouver Island, including training for new skills and services. To date, TimberWest and EDPR Canada have invested several million dollars in developing these projects.

“These renewable energy projects would represent a significant investment on Vancouver Island,” said TimberWest President and CEO, Brian Frank. “We have a tremendous opportunity here to develop wind energy on TimberWest’s private land near where that energy is needed.”

The project could see up to 150 wind turbines, enough to generate power to 30,000 homes. This could translate into 350 construction jobs and 40-50 permanent jobs. An initial 300 MW’s would mean approximately a $600 to $750 million investment.

The area around Sooke is very suitable for the generation of electricity from wind turbines. It is close to an area with a high demand for electricity.

TimberWest has a long history of sustainable land management and commitment to Vancouver Island communities.

“Wind projects on these lands would complement the existing managed forest landscape that has a century of renewable forest harvesting activity,” concluded Frank.

Partnering with TimberWest is EDPR Canada — part of a leading global renewable energy company that owns and operates over 8,000 megawatts of projects around the world.

“We are excited by the potential of these projects in British Columbia,” said Gabriel Alonso, CEO of EDP Renewables North America LLC. He added, “with the increasing efficiency of modern wind turbines, these projects would be competitive with other large-scale power development proposals in the province, including BC Hydro’s Site C.”

“We look forward to working with TimberWest, EDPR Canada, and other First Nations to see that the wind projects can be developed in a way that is respectful of First Nations people, and their culture, aspirations and interests,” said Chief Gordon Planes, of the T’Sou-ke First Nation whose traditional territory lies within the proposed wind projects.

With the contraction of the traditional Coastal forest industry in British Columbia over the last several decades, large-scale wind projects are an opportunity to diversify the Vancouver Island economy with new investment, jobs and training.

Vancouver Island currently imports nearly two-thirds of its electricity. These proposed projects are close to demand centres on Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland, and are in close proximity to BC Hydro’s 138 and 230 kV transmission lines with available capacity. The wind energy generated would complement the timing of electricity demand during the fall and winter months, and reduce line losses associated with long-haul transmission.

In addition, the projects would represent a large investment in Vancouver Island and benefit from experienced partners with the financial strength to assure project success,   and would support 350+ direct construction jobs, 1,000 indirect/induced jobs during construction and 40-50 permanent operations jobs.

These world-class, large-scale wind developments can compete with other future supply options, including BC Hydro’s Site C, on both price and value. Large-scale wind energy could provide lower rates and price certainty to customers in the long-term compared to other alternatives.

The proposed projects would generate energy without greenhouse gas emissions, supporting the BC Government’s objective to create the cleanest LNG projects on the globe.  To be successful, these projects would rely on BC Hydro to purchase the power, or deliver it directly to growing end use markets in the natural resources sector such as mining and liquefied natural gas projects.

TimberWest and EDPR Canada are dedicated to making their partnership a model for wind projects in British Columbia.  The partnership has begun engaging First Nations, local communities and stakeholders early, and will meet all local, provincial and federal requirements.

Within the past five years, T’Sou-ke has become a leader in community-based renewable energy.   With their and other First Nations involvement in the proposed projects, the partnership will leverage traditional knowledge of lands and geography, and experience with renewable energy development, to make these projects successful and to create new economic opportunities for First Nations on Vancouver Island.

Juan de Fuca Electoral Area Director Mike Hicks said, “There is the potential the process will dwarf the Marine Trails process for me.” He was referring to the fact that the land would likely have to be rezoned.

“It’s such an enormous project if it comes to fruition.”

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