Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Kokish Hydroelectric Project near Port McNeil

The Kokish Hydroelectric Project has a draft terms of reference within the BC Environmental Assessment process. There is a comment period till Feb 11th. Public meetings were held in Alert Bay and Port McNeil last week.

The Kokish River Hydroelectric project is a partnership between the 'Namgis First Nation and Brookfield Renewable Power. The plan is for a 45 Mw powerplant producing between 150 and 200 GWh/yr. The biggest issue with respect to the environment is the impact on the fish in the river. I assume much of the assessment process will be about fish issues. The full description of the project can be found here.

This project is a very positive thing to see. Rural First Nations in BC need to find more opportunities to create jobs and to create revenues that are not under the control of the Federal government. A project like this will create a moderate number of jobs in the construction process and a few ongoing jobs in running the facility. As more non storage hydro facilities go into operation, there will be increased long term fulltime jobs.

The gross revenues of the project should be at least $9,000,000 a year. I am not sure what the operating costs will be and costs involved with financing so it is hard to estimate what the return will be to the partners. After the cost to build it accounted for, it is reasonable to think the partners will see a million dollar return per year. For the 'Namgis this means they will be closing in on 45% of their revenues coming from non Federal Government sources.

The partnering with a company that has a track record in being able to develop non storage hydro projects will also lead to a transfer of knowledge to the 'Namgis. As they develop more human resource capacity for projects like this, the easier it will be for them to develop projects without partners. The 'Namgis already own a 12% stake in Orca sand and gravel quarry. In general the 'Namgis are proactive in building economic opportunities for their community.

The 'Namgis are looking at several other small scale hydro projects. One is also with Brookfield this is a 6.6MW one on Clint Creek. The other is still in the very early stages, a 9.9Mw one on the East Fork of the Kokish River in partnership with Innergex Renewable Energy. As these are built, the overall costs of operating all of them will fall and the returns to the 'Namgis will improve.

1 comment:

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