The Upper Lillooet Hydro project has been granted conditional environmental assessment approval by the B.C. government, although it has included 37 legally binding conditions.
The announcement, made on Jan. 10 by the provincial Environmental Assessment Office, stated that Environment Minister Terry Lake and Energy, Mines and Natural Gas Minister Rich Coleman came to their decision following the EAO’s review of proponent Creek Power Inc.’s 900-plus page environment assessment, submitted last fall.
The Upper Lillooet project is comprised of three run-of-river sites, Upper Lillooet River, Boulder Creek, and North Creek, around 60 km northwest of Pemberton. The three facilities will be developed as a single hydroelectric project with a combined capacity of 121 megawatts.
It includes a 72-kilometre-long, 230-kilovolt transmission line taking power to BC Hydro's transmission line near Rutherford Creek.
The cost of construction of the project is pegged at $420 million, with operation costs of $8.9 million per year.
Innergex owns two-thirds of Creek Power Inc., which has been issued with a EAO certificate to allow the project to begin construction once final permits are granted, while Ledcor owns the remaining third.
Innergex has previously stated that it hopes to begin providing energy to BC Hydro in 2015 and 2016, as each site comes on stream.
In a release, the EAO stated: “(The review) concluded that the project is not expected to result in any significant adverse effects, based on the mitigation measures and conditions of the Environmental Assessment Certificate.”
The Environmental Assessment Certificate includes 37 conditions, many with numerous sub-conditions, and a Certified Project Description. Each of the conditions is a legally binding requirement that Creek Power Inc. must meet to be in compliance with the certificate. It is also a legal requirement that the project be built and operated in accordance with the Certified Project Description.
Key conditions for the Upper Lillooet Hydro project that the proponent must meet include:
• Implement and maintain a minimum in-stream flow requirement for the North Creek, Boulder Creek and Upper Lillooet River diversion reaches.
• Prepare and adhere to a variety of comprehensive environmental management and environmental protection plans.
• Establish and maintain for the life of the project a dedicated, publicly available project website to ensure public awareness of ongoing activities and construction schedules and to ensure general safety in and surrounding the project area.
• Make all monitoring reports prepared during operations available to the public on the project website.
• Monitor temperature and ice conditions for the life of the project.
• Undertake construction activities outside of identified sensitive periods for wildlife species.
• Contribute to the province's regional grizzly bear monitoring program and participate in provincially led access management planning.
• Develop and implement a grizzly bear management plan, and other wildlife management plans, as part of a broader Human-Wildlife Interaction Plan.
• Develop and implement operations monitoring plans for coastal tailed frogs, harlequin ducks, and fish.
• Prepare and submit proposed replacement areas for impacted old-growth management areas, ungulate winter ranges and red-listed ecosystems.
The EAO is to co-ordinate compliance management efforts for these conditions, it stated in the release.
The Upper Lillooet was subject to late-hour attempts by opponents, including residents and the Pemberton Valley Wildlife Association (PVWA), to convince the ministers to reject the environmental assessment or implement changes.
The PVWA, in particular, expressed concern over the impact of power lines on grizzly bear habitat.
For the whole story read Pique Newsmagazine next Thursday.