Two run-of-river projects near Squamish have been awarded electricity purchase agreements in the second phase of B.C. Hydro's call for clean power proposals.
The power authority announced on March 31 that it has awarded purchase contracts to run-of-river facilities on Culliton Creek and the Mamquam watershed. Both come in under 49 MW and thus neither requires an environmental assessment administered by the Environmental Assessment Office (EAO).
Alberta's Enmax Corporation and Syntaris Power, a Vancouver-based green energy company, is promoting the Culliton Creek project. The run-of-river facility is to be located about 20 kilometres north of Squamish and generate a total capacity of 15 MW.
An intake at a high elevation will divert water from Culliton Creek into a penstock that leads to a single powerhouse. The water will then return to the creek upstream of the Highway 99 bridge crossing known locally as BOB.
Though it doesn't have to undergo an environmental assessment mandated by the EAO, a spokeswoman for Syntaris said the company is working on a development plan submission that she said will be available for public review. The assessment for this project only requires it to go through the Integrated Land Management Bureau and the Ministry of Environment.
She went on to say that environmental studies begun in 1996 indicate that there are no fish present above the Culliton bridge. There are, however, numerous fish species, including salmon, downstream of the project and Syntaris has committed to restoring vegetation along the creek once construction is completed.
The Mamquam project, meanwhile, is part of a group of facilities being pushed in the watershed by Run of River Power, a Vancouver-based company. The run-of-river facility approved in this round of the Clean Power Call is a 25 MW project that will use part of the flow of Skookum Creek to generate electricity.
This is the second group of projects to be awarded purchase agreements as part of the Clean Power Call. The first was announced March 11. At the time 19 projects were awarded purchase agreements, four of them located near Pemberton.
This time out only four power projects were awarded purchase agreements. The other two were a waste heat project and a wind power project.
B.C. Hydro said in a news release that it is continuing discussions with proponents of eight proposals and "expects to sign more agreements" with power producers in the pursuit of "cost-effective clean energy."
The news release goes on to say that the four projects will generate over 450 gigawatt hours of "clean, reliable electricity," enough to power 40,000 homes in British Columbia.
Whether the projects actually end up powering 40,000 B.C. homes is open to question. Electricity used in British Columbia comes from several sources. Most power generated in the province comes from hydroelectric facilities but B.C. is part of an energy grid, called the Western Interconnection, which connects British Columbia with Alberta, Washington and Oregon. Transmission lines extend all the way down to Baja, California.
At times British Columbia homes may be using power from sources in Alberta, which commonly produce electricity by burning natural resources such as coal and natural gas.