By Alison Taylor
After years of delays and setbacks, some a result of the construction of the $100 million Olympic bobsled track, a local “green” power project is back on track.
Proponents of the Fitzsimmons Creek run-of-river power project confirmed this week that work is full steam ahead, with a goal of having the project completed before the 2010 Games.
It is Whistler-Blackcomb’s top priority project in its efforts to mitigate climate change.
“It’s full throttle,” said Whistler-Blackcomb’s mountain planning and environmental resource manager Arthur DeJong. “We are working every day on this project.
“It’s right in the middle of 38 lifts. How can we as a ski operator not want to do the right thing, in terms of climate change, and not proceed with this? This is clearly the greatest action that we can move forward on in the short term to mitigate climate change.”
Whistler-Blackcomb is facilitating the project, which will lie within the ski area boundary. Vancouver-based Ledcor will develop the project.
The news that the Fitzsimmons independent power project (IPP) is not dead comes on the heels of the provincial government’s energy plan, which was announced Tuesday.
That plan outlines a strong commitment to green energy and conservation in the years to come.
“All new electricity generation, whether it comes from hydro, biomass, wind, tidal or solar, will emit net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2016,” announced B.C.’s Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources Richard Neufeld.
To that end, Neufeld said B.C. Hydro would be introducing a standing offer program with a set purchase price for electricity from clean energy sources or high efficiency cogeneration projects of 10 megawatts or less in size.
The Fitzsimmons run of river project, at 6.6 megawatts, would qualify.
B.C. Hydro’s media relations manager, Elisha Moreno, could not confirm the details on that program but said it would help stimulate the market for IPPs.
She added that Hydro is interested in the power from the Fitzsimmons Creek.
“That’s valuable energy to us,” she said. “We’ll always be open to talking to them about it.”
Ledcor, the project developers, had to cancel their 2001-02 energy purchase agreement with Hydro when it appeared the project was not going to come to fruition.
Development of the IPP was frustrated by its proximity to the Olympic bobsled/luge track on Blackcomb Mountain.
Ledcor examined an alternate route that would see the underground pipe located further away from the multi-million track but it was not feasible.