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Power is blowing in the wind

Wind energy is again under discussion by the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen.

At the most recent board meeting, directors looked at an application by the SB Hedley Holding Corp.  to put in five test towers 25 kilometres west of Summerland on crown land.

"They are testing the wind in the area to see if if would work for wind turbines," said Donna Butler, development services manager for the RDOS. 

Over the years there have been several applications, including some for actual wind farms.

According to Butler, the crown sends the RDOS a referral and asks if they have regulations affecting this use.

In the case of SB Hedley Holding Corp., they are seeking to put in five towers at the location west of Summerland, with three in Electoral Area F and two in Electoral Area G.

The two in the latter are not subject to zoning and no board approval is required for their development. 

The crown will be advised, however, that the applicant will need a temporary use permit for the three towers in Area F.

Michael Brydon, the RDOS director for Area F, said in an email, sent Wednesday, they have seen two applications for these towers in Area F over the last few years, with others in different electoral areas.

They are not turbines, he further explained, but temporary measurement towers. If the results are favourable, the RDOS might then see applications for actual turbines.

In terms of impact, the test towers are in relatively remote areas, which would also be the case for the turbines if they were to go ahead.

It is also not considered pristine wilderness. instead the area is already well logged, with many roads.

Concerns about bird kills and low frequency noise are better addressed by departments in senior governments, with the RDOS only being asked to weigh in on land use issues, he added.

Nor does he see much in terms of economic development for Area F from the projects. They are more about a global problem  and doing a small bit to facilitate a solution.

In putting that in context, he stated the Shinish Creek project  consists of a total of 14 turbines, in different areas of the RDOS, for a combined capacity of 30 MW. The proposed Site C dam has a capacity of 900 MW and China is currently developing about 570 coal-fired electricity plants, each with a capacity of 300 to 600 MW.

"So in terms of energy generation, these projects are a drop in the bucket," he said. "We have no illusions about saving the world here. However, my own view is that we have to start somewhere. Putting aside the subsidies provided by BC Hydro to third party power producers, these are private companies doing their own due diligence and risking their own capital to create green energy."



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