Trent Ernst, Editor
The District of Tumbler Ridge was honoured by Clean Energy BC at the Generate 2015 Conference in Vancouver this year.
“During a challenging period in the district’s history,” says the announcement from Clean Energy BC, “Tumbler Ridge has been highly supportive of Pattern Energy’s Meikle Wind Energy Project, and wind power more broadly. The District hosted job fairs, collaborated on mutually-beneficial projects, and took proactive measures to boost wind development in the region.”
For these reasons, Tumbler Ridge was one of two communities awarded an outstanding community award this year.
Mayor Don McPherson was at the conference. He says he thinks it’s pretty awesome that a town originally built as a coal mining town would be given such an award.
McPherson and other representatives from Tumbler Ridge joined individuals and representatives from companies in the Clean Energy sector “that have demonstrated exemplary leadership in British Columbia’s clean energy sector. Across the past 12 months, the association’s members have collectively commissioned more than $2 billion worth of clean energy power projects – facilities that are keeping the air clean, the grid strong, and providing transformative economic opportunities to First Nations and communities.”
Councillor Rob Mackay was at the conference, too. He says communities are nominated for these awards by various companies and Clean Energy Partners. “We were told we were nominated by so many people, it was impossible not to give us the award,” says Mackay.
On top of that, says EDO Jordan Wall, the District has been meeting with executives of Clean Energy BC, and they’re appreciative of what the community is doing to forward the cause of clean energy. “When they talk of Tumbler Ridge benefiting from their projects, it makes the Province happy, as the Province is looking for a way to help Tumbler Ridge. It shows our ability to take an active role in the development of the industrial project, as well as our strategy for lobbying the Provincial government to develop a relationship with them, is paying off.”
Wall says he hopes that it will translate to more jobs and more investment in the community. “Every indication is we’re doing the right thing,” he says. “Tumbler Ridge is very well respected within the Provincial Government and the clean energy industry.”
The move towards clean energy started with the work previous Councils did with the Quality Wind Project. “That put us on the map for wind production,” says Wall. “We have Pattern’s Meikle Creek project under construction, and we realized that we have a great opportunity here to diversify our economy. We’ve developed excellent relationships with all the wind providers in area. And we have developed strong relationships with Ministers Bond and Bennett with our made in Tumbler Ridge project. This award is coming from that work. Clean Energy BC along with wind energy producers have found Tumbler Ridge to be a great ally because of the relationship we have with the province.”
Wall says the defining moment of the conference came early for him. It happened just as they got off the plane. “Minister Bennett was waiting there, and he said ‘hey, it’s Tumbler Ridge! You guys must be down here for the conference.’ Because of the work we’ve done, he knew us by sight.”
The City of Kimberley was also honoured at the awards for the creation of the SunMine Solar project. The solar farm took eight years to develop and went on line in July of this year. The 1.05 MW solar project is BC’s first grid-connected solar facility. It is the first large-scale solar power plant outside Ontario, the first Canadian utility solar plant owned and operated by a municipality, the first Canadian solar project supported by a mining company, and the first Electricity Purchase Agreement awarded under BC Hydro’s Standing Offer Program to a solar project.
“SunMine is a great example of the resiliency of our community,” says Kimberley Mayor Don McCormick. “We are thriving and pursuing new and innovative directions. Although SunMine is the largest solar facility in BC, it is relatively small. As the SunMine proves its potential, the City of Kimberley is looking to expand it and have already had several inquiries from prospective partners.”
SunMine is supplying enough electricity to the BC Hydro grid to power approximately 200 homes.
“SunMine is a symbol of Kimberley’s commitment to the environment,” says Scott Sommerville, Chief Administrative Officer for the City of Kimberley. “When Kimberley’s mineral resources were depleted, we took advantage of our solar potential and developed a new resource which is renewable.” Kimberley receives the most sunshine in B.C. (over 300 days per year), and he says SunMine is well suited to capitalize on these clear and sunny conditions.
Teck provided use of the land and site infrastructure as well as a $2 million contribution towards the project. SunMine is located on Teck’s former Sullivan Mine site, which has been fully reclaimed.
“Participating in SunMine reflects both Teck’s commitment to supporting local communities, even after mining has ceased, and our focus on expanding the use of alternative energy,” said Don Lindsay, President and CEO of Teck. “We’re proud to be contributing to the long-term prosperity of Kimberley and commend the City for their entrepreneurial spirit.”