Recent Items – 2004-2005
By Gary Rusak — August 29, 2005
The Peace Energy Cooperative took yet another step towards the development of a wind farm on Bear Mountain with the installation of multiple wind gauges on the site last week.
“It is to measure wind information,” said Steve Rison, president of Peace Energy. “Peace Energy owns the data collected from the former B.C. Hydro wind gauges. The new gauges will allow us to confirm the validity of the data already collected while expanding the range of data that we can gather.”
With assistance from Aeolis Wind Power Cooperation, the local cooperative installed the anemometers at the heights of 60 and 85 metres on towers owned by Standard Radio. The 85 metre height is the highest anemometer in the province, necessitated by the exceptional wind conditions in the Peace.
“The geography in the Peace region is very unique,” said Rison. “There are some similarities to Norway but (research) has shown that the wind resource in the Peace region is pretty unique. It doesn’t mean it’s the greatest in the world, but it’s different.”
In the long term, the local co-op is looking to develop a wind farm that could produce 50 to 75 megawatts of power, with as many as 50 separate wind turbines. One megawatt is enough to power 300 to 400 households, according to Corey Diamond, an energy consultant for the Ontario-based Summerhill Group.
“If a project of that size is completed, it will go a long way towards filling the energy needs of the city and possibly the region,” he said. “And in a time when electricity demand is outstripping supply in some parts of the country, this can only be a good thing”
However, the start-up cost for the production of efficient, environmentally friendly and relatively cheap energy is substantial.
“It will probably be in the range of $100 million to $150 million that it will cost from start to finish,” said Rison. “Peace Energy is currently working with other companies because we don’t have the capacity to raise that kind of money.”
Rison is confident that private interests will step forward once the proper protocols have been followed to ensure that energy from the site can be sold on the open market. A crucial moment for the project will be when it submits its business plan to B.C. Hydro as a part of the utility’s upcoming alternative energy tender.
“It was supposed to start in September, but it looks like it was postponed,” said Rison. “Now it might be October or November, it might even get postponed until January, or February.”
Until then the Co-op will busy itself with gathering information and spreading the word about its project.
“(The rising price of energy) hasn’t shown up in any increase in memberships yet,” said Rison adding that the group is always looking to add to its 165 members. “What we are trying to do is raise public awareness because we feel like this is newsworthy. We are still here and we are still working on this project, even though a lot of it is behind the scenes.”