Wind projects waiting on BC Hydro review

By on October 11, 2017
A photo illustration of what the MKI wind turbines will look like about six kilometres away from Highway 5 if the project proceeds. (Photo courtesy of MKI).

 

Martin Ince hopes his wind turbines will grace the hilltops surrounding Merritt.

Ince, the president of renewable energy engineering company M.K. Ince and Associates (MKI) was at the civic centre in September to provide an update on his wind energy project.

In July, MKI submitted two development plans to the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources, which is now reviewing the application.

“That’s the big change now, [the ministry] is reviewing our development plans and it’s open for review by the public, also,” said Ince.

Jason Ladyman with the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources said over the next few months the ministry will be revising MKI’s plans from a technical perspective.

“It’s a serious review, and it’s really helpful to have their involvement in this,” said Ince.

Originally, the plan was to also build wind turbines near Mamette Lake and on Mount Guichon, but MKI is now proposing to build just on Mount Mabel, located about 30 km north of Merritt off Highway 5.

The Mount Mable wind energy project involves eight wind turbines split between two sections — Mount Mable East and Mount Mabel West.

Part of the reason for that is the fact Mount Mabel is closer to the interconnection site.

“We hope that there’ll still be a Standing Offer Program in place that we can  apply for,” said Ince.

Each section will contain four wind turbines measuring 100 metres tall with blade lengths of about 60 metres. The eight turbines will be capable of producing 15 to 20 megawatts of power, which would connect to a BC Hydro transmission line south of Mount Mable.

If given the rubber stamp from the ministry, Ince can move forward to apply to BC Hydro for its Standing Offer Program (SOP).

The intention is to produce electricity to sell to BC Hydro through the Crown corporation’s program, which is for clean energy projects that produce a maximum of 15 megawatts of electricity or less.

However, BC Hydro is currently not accepting applications to SOP until a review of the program is completed with input from the provincial government and Clean Energy BC. 

“It could be good for other renewable energy [projects], but it’s hard to know,” said Ince. “The Standing Offer Program is being reviewed right now, and they might change some of the rules,” said Ince.

According to BC Hydro, the review of the SOP is taking longer than originally anticipated and it is not known when this review will be complete. 

SOP is provincially mandated, so only the government can decide to cancel it.

The review currently underway will determine what future opportunities will exist. However, moving a project forward is at the developers own risk, according to information on BC Hydro’s website.

This puts project’s like MKI, which is hoping to break ground in 2020 in a bit of limbo for the time being.

“We hope that there’ll still be a Standing Offer Program in place that we can  apply for,” said Ince.

BC Hydro, however, is still processing applications already received.

This spring, Senvion’s Okanagan Wind project became operational at both the Pennask Plateau and Shinish Creek locations.

Ince said his project is similar in scope to this one as it too involves  selling power to BC Program under SOP.

“It’s actually very helpful for the public and others to see those, and I can now say ‘Well my project — you know the ones you see when you drive to Kelowna? It’s going to look very similar to that,’” said Ince.

Ince has been in Merritt a few times to update the community on this wind energy project, having held a community meeting back in 2015 at the Desert Inn, and at the beginning of 2017, he briefed city council on the project’s status.

One Comment

  1. Jason Masai

    November 15, 2017 at 11:52 am

    If Site C is cancelled, BC Hydro should re-open the SOP right away. Sure rates could drop from $102/megawatt hour to to an amount that Hydro is breaking even,being about $82/MWH.

    Folks working on the site c dam now should then apply for generators under the SOP. Most of those jobs are temporary. For a run-in-river plant, most energy purchase agreements last 40 years, now that’s a pension in its own right.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *