Innergex Renewable Energy Inc. has received environmental assessment (EA) Certificates for the proposed Tretheway Creek, Shovel Creek and Big Silver Creek Waterpower Projects.
Innergex Renewable Energy Inc. develops, owns and operates run-of-river hydroelectric facilities, wind farms and solar photovoltaic parks. Innergex carries out operations in Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia, as well as in Idaho. The company has been involved in the renewable power industry since 1990. Currently, Innergex operates 18 run-of-river plans, nine of which are in B.C.
Environment Minister Terry Lake and Energy and Mines Minister Rich Coleman made the decision to grant the EA Certificates after considering the review led by B.C.'s Environmental Assessment Office (EAO).
The proposed projects, totalling an estimated $194-million, will be located on Tretheway Creek, Shovel Creek and Big Silver Creek in the Harrison Lake area of the Fraser Valley Regional District. Once operational, the projects will produce up to 72 megawatts of run-of-river hydroelectric energy, enough to power 27,500 homes per year.
The projects will include 3.25 kilometres of new and upgraded roads and a 47-kilometre, 138-kilovolt transmission line from the existing Tipella Creek Waterpower Project to the Shovel Creek Waterpower project. The completed projects will generate no greenhouse gas emissions.
BC Hydro awarded Electricity Purchasing Agreement (EPA) for the projects in March 2010. Under the conditions of the EPAs, the Commercial Operational Date (electricity delivery date to the BC Hydro grid) is December 2015 for Tretheway Creek and November 2016 for Shovel Creek and Big Silver Creek.
The EAO assessment report concluded that the projects are not expected to result in any significant adverse effects, based on the mitigation measures and conditions of the EA Certificate.
The provincial EA certificates contain project design features, mitigation measures and numerous legally binding conditions that Innergex Renewable Energy Inc. must adhere to throughout various stages of the project.
Key requirements include:
- The Proponent must implement and maintain a minimum in-stream flow requirement for Tretheway Creek, Shovel Creek and Big Silver Creek diversion reaches.
- The Proponent must develop, test and confirm operational criteria and procedures for flow ramping (controlling the water flow levels during project start-up and shut-down).
- The Proponent must implement comprehensive Environmental Management Plans that clearly outline proponent and contractors' roles and responsibilities, monitoring requirements, reporting requirements and training components.
- The Proponent must develop and implement a Mountain Goat Winter Range Management Policy, which specifically addresses construction work restrictions during the sensitive period for mountain goats (Nov. 1 to April 30) to ensure that goats will not be negatively affected by construction activities.
- Submission of reports to EAO, at specified intervals (annually, prior to construction, operation, decommissioning, and once decommissioning is complete), indicating the status of compliance with the conditions of the EA Certificate.
- The Proponent must develop and implement a Spotted Owl Habitat Mitigation Plan, which specifically addresses impacts to the Tretheway Creek Spotted Owl Wildlife Habitat Area.
- The Proponent must develop and implement a Navigation Mitigation Plan for each the projects to address impacts to recreational boat use such as kayaking.
Consistent with EAO's enhanced compliance and enforcement program, EAO will co-ordinate compliance management efforts to ensure that EAO is independently satisfied that certificate conditions are met.
The project required a federal environmental assessment under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. EAO, in collaboration with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, conducted a co-operative assessment of the projects that met both the requirements under the B.C.'s Environmental Assessment Act and a screening-level review under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. However, due to recent changes to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, the screening-level review will not be completed.
When operational, the projects will provide four to five full-time employment positions. It is estimated that construction of the three projects will require up to a peak of 250 personnel during the four year construction period.
Local and provincial taxes generated over the 40-year lifespan of the projects will be approximately $78 million.
The Sts'ailes and the Xa'xtsa (Douglas) First Nation participated in the environmental assessment and the proponent continues to engage the Sts'ailes and the Xa'xtsa First Nation in the project. The B.C. government is satisfied that the Crown's duties to consult and accommodate First Nations' interests have been discharged as they relate to the decision to grant the EA Certificate.
Before the project can proceed, Innergex Renewable Energy Inc. must obtain the necessary provincial and federal licences, leases and other approvals.
More information on the EA Certificate can be found at: www.eao.gov.bc.ca
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Ministry of Environment