Folks at the Cape Scott Wind Farm open house learned the operation will be running in about 15 months.

Folks at the Cape Scott Wind Farm open house learned the operation will be running in about 15 months.

Windfarm getting closer to reality

More than 20 people showed at an open house to hear the latest about the planned Cape Scott Wind Farm, the first of its kind in B.C., and learned the operation should be up and running in just more than a year.

More than 20 people showed at an open house to hear the latest about the planned Cape Scott Wind Farm, the first of its kind in B.C., and learned the operation should be up and running in just more than a year.

“It’s been a long haul to get to this point,” said James Griffith, of Sea Breeze Power Corp., the company behind the plan to build the $350 million, 55 windmill operation  about 35-km east of Port Hardy.

“We had our first meeting in Port Hardy in 2002 and we have a target to be operational by November 2012.”

Sea Breeze recently sold Phase 1 of the project to another company, International Power-GDF SUEZ North America.

“We felt it was best for our company and to get it done was to sell it,” said Griffith.

The 55 Danish-built Vestas V100 windmills are massive — the hub reaches 80 metres into the sky and each blade is about 55 metres — and will be situated on a plateau north of Holberg Road.

It’s an ambitious project that requires its own cement plant and hundreds of workers to construct it all.

However, once the blades are all turning, just a dozen people will be required to maintain the operation.

In his presentation, Jay Wilgar, of International Power, said his company will also be involved in several peripheral projects, including rebuilding 14-km of the Nahwitti Road to transport wind turbine parts, building 30-km of new roads on the Knob Hill Plateau —including more than 300 culverts and bridges — constructing 30-km of power lines to collect power from the turbines and building 40-km of power lines to connect to the grid at Port Hardy.

At its peak, the workforce will number about 300.

When all is said and done, the turbines are projected to produce enough energy to supply 30,000 homes.

In addition to power, the project is expected to generate local, annual cash injections, including property taxes of more than $500,000 per year to the Regional District of Mount Waddington and Crown land lease fees of more than $100,000 per year.

During construction, an estimated $50 million will be spent on:

• Civil contractors for road and bridge building tree harvesting and clearing.

• Equipment rental.

• Local hardware purchases.

• Accommodations and meals for workers. International Power currently has similar projects on the go in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia.