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IPP opponents campaign against Upper Lillooet project and Pemberton Creek proposal

Petition requests council to rescind RFEI



Opponents of run-of-river development in the Pemberton region have launched a late attempt to stop the Upper Lillooet Power Project proposal in its tracks and another to prevent the Pemberton Creek community power project proposal ever getting off the ground.

Louise Taylor said opponents were objecting to both projects, and were considering organizing a protest against the Upper Lillooet in Vancouver.

"(In terms of the Upper Lillooet Power Project,) we're hoping for a last-ditch protest that might either delay or influence (the minister's) decision so that they decide not to certify the project," Taylor said in an interview.

"Not enough people know about Independent Power Projects (IPPs). If they knew more and understood more about the impact they would feel very strongly about it."

The Upper Lillooet is a three-site run-of-river power project which proponent Innergex hopes to have operating on a 40-year contract to sell energy to BC Hydro by 2016. The site has the capacity to produce 113.0 MW. Innergex's environmental assessment is currently with the provincial government, awaiting ministerial decision, due in January.

Innergex owns four other run-of-river IPPs already operating in the Sea to Sky region, including at Miller Creek, Ashlu Creek, Fitzsimmons Creek, and Rutherford Creek.

Innergex held several open houses earlier this year to present its environmental assessment finding, the final one drawing around 130 people in July 2012.

As for the Pemberton Creek community power project, which has piqued the interest of the Village of Pemberton, Taylor's fellow opponent Doug Helmer presented a petition with 110 signatures against the idea to Village of Pemberton councillors at the regular council meeting of Dec. 4.

Helmer told council they had been placed in several businesses in Pemberton for three or four days.

Council instructed Village of Pemberton staff at the Nov. 6 council meeting to develop a Request for Expression of Interest (RFEI) for consideration at a meeting in December. The RFEI is meant to seek out potential arrangements for P3 collaborations in order to get the run-of-river project. It is not known if the RFEI will be at the last council meeting of the year, on Dec. 18.

Pemberton Mayor Jordan Sturdy previously said Pemberton Creek could be a 15 MW project valued at somewhere between $30 million and $40 million.

The small council chamber was packed to standing room capacity with 30 people, most of whom were there to voice their opposition to the idea. Along with the petition, the council received letters from nine residents expressing their opposition to the Pemberton community power project.

In particular, Helmer said, there was concern over the altering of nearby trails, over the impact on diverted water lowering the amount of water going over the falls on the river, and over the creek's diversion hurting property values in Pemberton's Benchlands area. As well, there was concern about the impact of any IPP on fish stocks and noise from the power plant itself.

"Everyone that signed wants the request for expression of interest in the power project on Pemberton Creek rescinded," Helmer told council.

Both Sturdy and Councillor Mike Richman told those attending in support of the petition that the project concept was at the very early stages of development and would go through a broad public consultation process.

Liz Scroggins of Innergex said no private company was involved in the Pemberton Creek project at this stage. She encouraged those with questions about the Upper Lillooet project to visit the project office in Pemberton.