Let it blow

Trent Ernst, Editor


Ron Percival, from Avro Wind Energy was at the recent coal and energy forum to talk wind power.

Specifically, Percival came to talk about the Sundance Wind Partnership. While the project is 100 percent owned by EDF EN Canada, Inc, Avro started developing the site in 2003. While they no longer own any part of the project, they continue to have an interest and are doing much of the leg work on the project.

The Sundance Wind Project is a 250 MW wind energy project on public land between Tumbler Ridge and Chetwynd, British Columbia. The Project is located approximately 20 km north of Tumbler Ridge, on a ridge above Moose Lake. But despite its proximity, says Percival, it is not visible from Moose Lake or Gwillim Lake. The project will be visible from Highway 29, but only in the distance.

Percival provides an introduction to EDF EN Canada, which is one of Canada’s largest wind energy developers, with over 1,300 MW of solar and wind projects installed or under development in Canada. EDF EN, the parent company, has a presence in over 16 counties internationally, with 3050 employees. EDF EN has 3 billion invested in Canada already, with another 1.8-billion proposed in the BC Peace, where, says Percival, “wind makes sense.”

The project is currently undergoing a BC Environmental Assessment (“EA”), and has already signed Memorandums of Understanding with many of the First Nations in the area.

Percival says the site is “Absolutely magnificent. It’s on a little bit of a point,” he says. The wind rises up and over the point, building up speed as it goes.

The potential is 250 jobs during construction, with another 10–15 jobs during operation. Construction could begin as early as 2016, with the Environmental Assessment Certificate expected in 2015.

There’s one small problem, though, says Percival. They still need a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with BC Hydro.

Actually, that’s not a small problem, but a pretty big one; over the last few years, BC Hydro has not been signing Power Purchase Agreements for any project larger than 15 MW. At 250 MW, this project is definitely outside that window. Sundance says they’re “working closely with government and BC Hydro to maximize the value of the project,” but with BC Hydro focusing most of their energy on Site C, the chance of a new, major wind project is slim.

“We released our integrated resource plan, last fall,” says a BC Hydro spokesperson. “It outlines BC Hydro’s long-term plan for meeting growing energy demand. The plan doesn’t specifically call for a new large energy procurement process, but it does leave the door open for exploring clean, renewable sources, like wind, to supply electricity if future demand is higher than anticipated.”

Still, EDF EN is continuing to work on the project, which could be built as early as 2016.

“There is three million dollars invested already,” says Percival. “The EA is ongoing, and we are working with First Nations, stakeholders and local government to ensure studies are comprehensive, transparent, and sensitive.”