45-MW Vancouver Island Kokish River hydroelectric project approved
By Anthony Capkun
December 13, 2011 – Kwagis Power Limited Partnership (Brookfield Renewable Power Inc. and ‘Namgis First Nation) has received an environmental assessment certificate for the proposed Kokish River Hydroelectric Project.
Environment minister Terry Lake and Rich Coleman, energy and mines minister, made the decision to grant the environmental assessment certificate after considering the review led by B.C.’s Environmental Assessment Office.
The proposed $200-million project will be located on the Kokish River, 15 km east of Port McNeill on Vancouver Island. Once completed, the project will produce up to 45 megawatts of electricity and will involve the diversion of water into a 9-km long penstock pipe constructed under and beside existing roads to a powerhouse downstream of the Telegraph Cove Road bridge.
A 500-metre transmission line will deliver power from the project to the BC Hydro grid. Kwagis Power has an Electricity Purchase Agreement with BC Hydro to deliver power to the BC Hydro grid by April 2014.
The Environmental Assessment Office assessment report concluded the project is not expected to result in any significant adverse effects, based on the mitigation measures and commitments included as conditions of the environmental assessment certificate. The provincial environmental assessment certificate contains design features, mitigation measures and 77 commitments that form legally-binding requirements to which Kwagis Power must adhere throughout various stages of the project.
Key requirements include:
• Project construction oversight by an independent environmental monitor.
• Ensuring project in-stream works and infrastructure do not obstruct fish migration upstream and downstream.
• Maintaining sufficient river flows for all life stages of key fish species as determined by the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations and Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
• Preparing and implementing a habitat compensation plan acceptable to Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
• Effectiveness and response monitoring during project operations.
• Facilitating kayaking opportunities during project construction and operations. Consulting recreation organizations during Project construction, operation and decommissioning to ensure continued angling and other recreational access to the Kokish River.
• Annual compliance reporting during construction and throughout the life of the project.
The two-year project construction period is expected to generate 150 person-years of full-time direct employment, while the operational phase of the project is expected to create 120 person-years of full-time direct employment over the estimated 40-year life of the project.