NaiKun gets provincial environmental assessment certificate

  • Dec. 14, 2009 3:00 p.m.

By Heather Ramsay–Naikun Wind Energy Group has cleared one major environmental hurdle toward its offshore energy project – it has been granted an environmental assessment certificate from the provincial government. Two provincial ministers, Environment Minister Barry Penner and Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources Blair Lekstrom signed off on the decision on last Thursday Dec. 10 after considering the environmental assessment documentation submitted by Naikun. Naikun Wind vice-president Matt Burns said the certificate is a significant step, “but we have a lot more work to do.” Not only does the company have to pass the federal environmental assessment process still, but a Haida one as well. Guujaaw, newly re-elected CHN president, has said the project will go to a general vote before it’s approved by the nation, but neither a date nor the wording of the vote has been set. BC Hydro announced in November that it would be awarding green energy contracts to 13 proponents in December. Mr. Burns said Naikun and the other 46 proponents still in the running for the independent power call are bound by confidentiality agreements and can not discuss who may be moving forward in this process. On the federal government level, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans is still deliberating over fisheries management components. Mr. Burns said none of the 100 conditions in the provincial environmental assessment certificate, which must be implemented throughout the various stages of the project, are a surprise. “We’ve been working with the regulatory agencies for six months and worked with them to develop the commitments.” Key commitments include: -undertaking a joint research project with the local crab fishery to document Dungeness crab movement at Dogfish Bank. Mr. Burns says this will take place before construction. -undertaking additional modeling prior to construction and monitoring to verify predictions on movement of sediment relative to beaches and navigation in the area. -implementing an adaptive management plan for marine birds. -implementing a monitoring plan to identify any unforeseen impacts to values and recreational use of Naikoon Provincial Park. The company still has to obtain provincial occupancy permits and is working with the Integrated Lands and Management Bureau on that. On the federal level, they will have to obtain permits from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Natural Resources Canada and Transport Canada. Naikun Wind says the project’s capital cost will be $2 billion with $400 million spent during construction ($250 million in the North Coast region). The money is expected to come from the project’s partners. EnMax Calgary is a 50 percent partner and Naikun has offered the Haida Nation the opportunity to purchase a 40 percent equity position in the company. Naikun would retain 10 percent. Mr. Burns said the partners would be responsible for the equity portion of the project and Naikun would bring the debt portion to the table. He said if the Haida choose not to take the opportunity, the company will look towards a European bank that has experience with wind energy companies. “It’s never been our intent to be a partner at that [equity] level,” said Mr. Burns. “We are a development company,” he said. That said, the company has done a lot of work towards finding debt partners for the project and when the time comes, he says Naikun will be in a good position.