On Monday, January 27 Innergex was in Vanderhoof to present an update on the Nulki Hills Wind Project that could be operational by 2018.
“If everything goes well, our project could start construction in 2016 and a project of this size takes about two years to build,” said Bas Brusche, Director of Public Affairs for Innergex. “But there are a lot of questions that still need to be answered and I want to take away the impression that this project is a done deal.”
They were in Vanderhoof along with the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office to “receive public feedback about the studies or information required for an environmental assessment including potential environmental, economic, social, heritage and health effects” according to their pamphlets.
“It really helps us as far as diversifying who we are as a community and what we’re involved in,” said Gerry Thiessen, Vanderhoof mayor. “It’s certainly going to be a very busy time in Vanderhoof the next three to five years and they’re not just one industry and that’s the exciting thing. The people of Vanderhoof need to really be involved in the OCP that we’re working on right now because that’s going to determine who we are as a community.”
Innergex expects to build a maximum of 70 wind turbines that stand approximately 120 metres high, including the rotor.
Each turbine produces enough to supply 1,000 homes for a year so they expect to produce enough power to supply 70,000 homes or 550 to 650 GWh per year.
The Nulki Hills are located approximately 30 kilometres south of Vanderhoof, within the traditional territory of the Saik’uz First Nations and located more than 10 kilometres away from the nearest residence. Saik’uz and Innergex signed a Letter of Intent and a Traditional Knowledge Protocol Agreement on December 17, 2013.
The project is expected to cost between $400-500 million and will take about two years to build.
“We need labour,” said Brusche when he presented to mayor and council. “We need between 200 and 300 people to help us out with the construction of the project. Some of you know that we are actively using all kinds of businesses in Vanderhoof and that will only increase.”
Once they’re finished construction it won’t take more than a handful of people to manage the turbines but more people will be needed for maintenance and clearing on 60 kilometres of new roads.
Access to the turbines will be from the existing Kluskus Forest Service Road and from Corkscrew 300.
A noise effects assessment will be completed but the rule is that a turbine not exceed 40 decibels, the sound of a normal conversation from one metre away. Innergex says that this is usually met at a distance of 1.5 km and since the nearest residence is 10 km away any noise probably won’t be noticed by human residents.
That isn’t to say that animals won’t be affected.
The company is currently studying the numbers of wildlife entering the area including bats, birds, and even bears.
When Innergex presented to council on Monday, one of the concerns raised was if the company would work together with New Gold and other operations in the area so that the demand for workers doesn’t happen all at the same time.
Brusche told mayor and council that they will in fact be working with other companies to coordinate construction times.
“So what we have to do is just be aware that our social services are able to handle this and whether that’s policing, health care, the safe home all those kind of things we just need to be careful. When you have a lot of activity coming through town the cumulative effect of all that activity is what can give a community problems.”
“We all want to see the town diversify, we all want to see a new industry come to town but we have to make sure it’s a positive thing for the community as a whole.”
Innergex is one of the biggest renewable energy companies in Canada. They are active in wind, solar, and water-based energy projects and have been active for over 20 years. Most of their projects in B.C. are hydro based.
“The interesting thing about wind is that the turbines keep getting cheaper and more efficient,” said Brusche. “Which means you can get more power over the years for less money out of the same types of turbine so if you keep it updated it can be an activity for many decades.”