By Ken Manning, North Island Gazette, March 31, 2011
PORT HARDY — Green energy pioneer Nomis Power Corp (NPC) unveiled its Nahwitti Windfarm Project to local residents and invited public comment on the project during an open house at Port Hardy Civic Centre Mar. 24.
The open house was the third of three held in Port Hardy. NPC also hosted two open houses in Holberg. These public meetings are part of the environmental assessment process that Nomis must complete in order to obtain a certificate allowing it to proceed with the project.
Mark Grant, the company's government relations and public affairs officer, fielded questions about the project and introduced Garry Hamilton, CEO of ECL Environmental Solutions, who guided and compiled NPCs voluminous environmental application.
Also on hand was Autumn Cousins, Project Assessment Manager from the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office. NPC's environmental application has been found to be complete, said Cousins, so the company has begun the application review stage that will continue for 180 days. That stage also triggers the 30-day public comment period that ends April 16.
"It is important that the public have all comments in before the end of the 30-day period or we cannot consider them," said Cousins.
The proposed Nahwitti Windfarm Project is located northwest of Nahwitti Lake on private land holdings owned by Nahwitti Land-holdings 1 Ltd. and on Crown public lands leased from the British Columbia government. The proposed project will generate clean, renewable energy from approximately 75 wind turbine generators and is scheduled to be developed in two phases over the next five years.
"The total nominal installed capacity of phase one will be approximately 100 megawatts increasing to 150 mw within the five years," says the company's project description.
NPC has scaled back its original plan with an eye to lowering its impact on the environment, said Hamilton. The company's current plan is to install 42 2.4-2.5 megawatt turbines on 90-metre towers, although 3.0 MW wind turbines on 120-metre towers are still a possibility. The 100 MW will be sold to BC Hydro and transmitted to its grid through NPCs planned underground cable south to Holberg Road and then overhead east on upgraded 138 kV hydro lines.
"The closest municipality to the Nahwitti project is the District of Port Hardy. Both the Board of the Regional District and the Mayor and Council have been consulted with respect to development of the project," said NPC. "The Project Area lies within an overlap area of the traditional territories of the Tlatlasikwala First Nation and the Quatsino First Nation, and to some extent the Kwakiutl First Nation. These First Nations have established a Three Nation Project Working Group to discuss proposed wind farms in the area."
"Almost all of the publics' comments have been positive," said Hamilton.
Hamilton said it wasn't really a surprise that the public on the North Island has been receptive to the project. This is a green energy solution that will created 120 construction jobs lasting 15 months and nine full-time jobs lasting 35 years. Hamilton said B.C.'s environmental guidelines are stringent and go well beyond many other province's. He said NPC will have invested nearly five million dollars to complete the lead-up process. If successful, the company can begin construction as early as this winter; however, a spring, 2012 startup is more likely.
The profit margins are low in renewable energy and there are no incentives other than the possibility of some relief on the cost of leasing provincial land so the Nahwitti project could only be taken on by a special company that is committed to green energy solutions, said Hamilton.
NPC was formed in 2003 by Simon Harvey, a real estate developer, Russ Hellberg the former mayor of Port Hardy and Mike Chapin an electrical engineer who specializes in developing power generation projects. The company's mission is to develop renewable energy projects and bring them into production.
Public comments can be submitted in one of three ways. Comments are welcome online at www.eao.gov.bc.ca, or by fax at 1-250-356-7440, or by mail addressed to Environmental Assessment Office, PO Box 9426 Stn Prov Govt, Victoria BC V8W 9V1.