A councillor with the Village of Pemberton is concerned that a proposed run-of-river power project could dot the valley with hidden powerlines.
Alan LeBlanc, a councillor elected to his first term in November, spoke during Tuesday's committee of the whole meeting for the Village of Pemberton that entertained a presentation from Regional Power Inc. on a 145 megawatt run-of-river project that's been proposed for the Ryan River north of Pemberton.
David Carter, vice-president of Regional Power Inc, and Nigel Protter, a Pemberton-based proponent of the project, together delivered a presentation in which they explained various facets of the proposal - among them, that transmission lines would remain mostly invisible to the public.
LeBlanc, who has previously served as the chair of the Pemberton Valley Dyking District, nevertheless told the meeting that he's worried about having "semi-hidden" power lines in the valley.
"I actually have a problem with that transmission line running along that route, and especially if we're going to build more IPPs in that area," he said. "Miller Creek built a power line, now if you go ahead with this one, it'll build a power line. If another creek is done, I'm sure it will have to have a power line. Pretty soon we'll have maybe eight or nine semi-hidden power lines."
LeBlanc later said he was certain that a water license would be taken out on Wasp Creek, a water body that feeds into the Ryan River from a higher elevation.
"I'm all for these things, don't get me wrong," he said. "But I'm afraid that we're going to have, by hiding these little lines all over the place, we're just going to have an uglier mess."
Protter attempted to assuage his concerns about the power lines.
"I don't think that's going to happen to the extent you're worried about," he said. "There have been (concerns) in the past about having too many projects and I think the EA (Environmental Assessment Office) and other agencies are really aware of that, and that's something you can temper your concern with."
Carter then attempted to show councillors what wind turbine power plant generating the same amount of power would look like. The illustration showed wind turbines stretched across the floor of the Pemberton Valley.
"All of the renewable options today for heavy energy have impacts," he said.
The project, which is currently undergoing an environmental assessment, will burrow an approximately 9.5-km tunnel through Sugarloaf Mountain and divert part of the flow of the river to a powerhouse on the other side.
From there the power will travel through a 23.5-km transmission line that will connect with a substation near the Rutherford Creek Power Plant on Highway 99. The electricity generated at the powerhouse will then be transferred into the Western Interconnection, a power grid that runs from British Columbia to Alberta and south to Baja California in Mexico.
The project has been controversial within the Pemberton Valley and elsewhere. Opponents from the Lower Mainland filled the old Pemberton Community Centre during a Dec. 4 public meeting and took up much of the time allotted for people to ask questions of Regional Power about the project.
Carter claimed that he delivered the presentation to village council because he wants to work with Pemberton to ensure that the project can be a success.
"We would like to ask to participate in opportunities within the community," he said. "It's something that we look forward to discussing with the community in future."