Narrows Inlet IPP application nearing completion

Renewable Power Corporation (RPC) hopes to submit their application before the end of this year to build five run-of-river hydro projects in Narrows Inlet.

The Gibsons-based company has been working on the project since about 2007, according to owner Peter Schober, who said recently his company partnered with Altaqua Renewable Power Corporation, Pacific Northern Gas (PNG) and Skookum Power Corporation to move the project along.

"These [applications] require a lot of environmental data to be collected we've certainly been in there for many years collecting data, weather monitoring, flow monitoring. Because we had a turbidity event there, we've been doing turbidity monitoring, surveying, fisheries monitoring so putting together all the environmental studies takes four or five years," Schober said, adding the sheer volume of work to be done for the application and the cost of that work made the partnership appealing.

PNG has formed Narrows Inlet Limited Partnership with Skookum Power Corporation to invest up to $2.5 million in the project.

"Both parties will be working closely with the team of the existing Narrows Inlet project developers, Renewable Power Corporation and Altaqua Renewable Power Corporation, to advance the project through the B.C. environmental assessment process," a press release from PNG said.

RPC has three independent power projects (IPPs) in its portfolio. One was constructed on McNair Creek and generates 10 megawatts of power; another is a private IPP developed and constructed on McCannel Lake in Jervis Inlet, and the final project is the Tyson Creek hydro project, which generates 7.5 megawatts of energy.

The latter project at Tyson Creek gained media attention last February after sediment slid into Tyson Lake, causing turbid (sediment laden) water to be piped into Tyson Creek, Tzoonie River and Narrows Inlet. Turbid water can pose a risk to fish and fish habitat, and the event temporarily shut down the IPP.

As part of the data collection for the current Narrows Inlet hydro project, RPC will try to demonstrate that a similar event won't happen again.

"The review process by the government has become more and more stringent, which it should be, and we're just following the government standards to make sure every concern gets addressed," Schober said.

The company is still collecting data for their submission, but Schober hopes everything will be complete and able to be presented to the government before the end of the year.

"We are nearing the end of data collection. Then we'll compile the reports and do a submission," Schober said.

Once the submission is filed, he said the government will give his company either a "pass or fail." If the company gets a pass, it will hold open houses on the Sunshine Coast for community input before an environmental assessment is undertaken. If the project passes the environmental assessment, RPC will begin construction on the first of five hydroelectric projects in Narrows Inlet, which Schober expects will result in 70 to 80 full-time jobs for local employees. Construction on the entire project (all five hydroelectric projects) is expected to take five to six years.

If approved, the Narrows Inlet project, also referred to as the Stl'ixwim Renewable Energy Initiative, will produce 45 megawatts of power.

SSC Administrator