Taku Power Corp, an affiliate of Chinook Power Corp. of North Vancouver, a privately owned Canadian developer of renewable energy, is seeking a License of Occupation on five sites northeast of Burns Lake for the purpose of the investigation and monitoring of windpower.
The intent is to install 60-metre (195-ft.) meteorological towers on five one-hectare sites approximately 20 km east of Burns Lake.
Three of the sites are in the Sheraton Creek vicinity and the other two sites are south of Taltapin Lake. Each tower will record wind measurements to determine if there is enough wind power at the sites to make it economically feasible to develop wind- turbine generated electricity for sale to B.C. Hydro.
“We’re actually quite active in the area,” said Taku Power CEO Stephen Cheeseman. “We have one site in Smithers, another one in Houston, and a third near Vanderhoof, as well as the one proposed for Burns Lake.”
“How it works is we will generally go to an area, after receiving environmental assessment approval, and put up one tower at a site. We would analyze that data for at least a year. If the results showed good potential, we would put up another tower in the area.”
“And, that is how the project will go in Burns Lake, once we get approval. We will put up one tower at one of the five one-hectare sites. After at least a year of receiving data, we will then analyze it, and if the data looks good, another tower – or towers – would be installed at one or more of the other sites.”
Cheeseman said that three towers have been up in the Houston area for a year, near the old Equity mine site.
“We’ve got a years’ worth of data from those three towers. Now we’ll be analyzing it, to see if there is potential for generating electricity through wind power from that site.”
Each tower can cost $25,000 to $30,000, said Cheeseman.
“Then, there’s the expense of installation and maintenance, which can run from $25,000 to $60,000. The tower comes in seven-and-a-half foot section, and has to be flown in by helicopter, put together on the ground, then lifted and mounted on a fulcrum.”
After installation, the sensors on the meteorological towers begin to gather data.
“We get the data back through satellite/cell phone communications, which relays it to our Internet Service Provider, which sends it right to our desk computers.”
Before a tower can be erected, the application must be forwarded to the Integrated Land Management Bureau, who are required to hold public consultations regarding the location of towers in the proximity of freehold lands as part of their decision-making process.
A provincial environmental assessment review process, which takes two years, must also be completed before any towers are installed, said Cheeseman.
“The patterns of migratory ungulates (e.g., caribou, moose), for example, have to be monitored; and consultations with interested parties, such as guides, outfitters, First Nations, that all has to be taken into account.”
A steady increase in the price of fossil fuels has stimulated research and development of wind turbines resulting in a dramatic decrease in the cost of wind-generated electricity from 50 cents per kilowatt/hour [k/h] in 1980 to the present cost of production of as low as 6 cents per k/h; making wind energy prices competitive with both hydro and fossil fuel energy costs.
Add to that the fact that wind power generated electricity is environmentally clean’ with virtually zero greenhouse gas production and that the wind is a renewable and endless source of fuel’ to generate electricity, and you have an attractive field for development that remains largely untapped in Canada, and especially in British Columbia.
Canada currently produces its electricity from four main sources, which are, in order of quantity, hydro, coal, nuclear, and natural gas. Wind energy accounts for about 0.2 per cent of energy production.
The provinces that have installed large utility-scale wind turbines are Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Quebec, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and the Yukon. B.C. has yet to install any commercial turbines, but the de-regulation of the industry in 2002 by the B.C. government has opened the door for private developers like Chinook Power Corp. to generate alternative energy.