Power project planned for west coast

  • Nov. 22, 2006 3:00 p.m.

The north end of the islands could soon be getting most of its electricity from a hydro-electric plant not far from Rennell Sound, if a proposal by Van inlet Hydro Corp. goes ahead.
Long-time islander George Pattison along with business partner Tamara Knott are making presentations about the project around the islands this week, including the final one in Port Clements tonight (Thursday).
They hope to build a small dam on a lake above Van Inlet south of Rennell Sound, add a power station and transmission line and sell power to BC Hydro for the north end.
The unnamed lake the company plans to tap into has an 800-foot drop, “ideal for a power project”, Ms Knott told an audience of about 15 in Skidegate Monday evening. The area also has a number of other things going for it, according to Ms Knott, including the fact that there are no salmonid species using the lake. “There’s no way salmon can get up there,” she said, referring to the 800-foot elevation of the lake, which sits atop a cliff. The transmission line itself would follow existing logging roads to Port Clements, and while there would be some disruption of wildlife during construction, once completed the project would have little impact.
The advantages to the islands are clear, said Ms Knott. Hydro-electricity is very reliable and clean, and would greatly lessen the islands’ dependence on diesel generation. As well, the company would hire and buy locally whenever possible, and there would be tax benefits to the regional district.
Because of lower water levels in summer, the project would likely be able to produce power for 8 to 10 months a year, much as the hydro plant on Moresby Island currently does.
The project is expected to cost $10-million, with the money coming from investors. It will need three to four years to be completed, as there are several impact studies and plans that have to be completed and approved before construction can start.
“Whether a project like this goes or not depends on public support, Mr. Pattison told the group in Skidegate. “You are the public.”

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