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BC wind power takes flight

DAWSON CREEK- Politicians gathered beneath a 77-metre wind turbine tower at Dawson Creek’s Bear Mountain Wind Park on Thursday to celebrate the halfway point in the construction of B.C.’s first wind power project, and announce federal funding worth $20.5 million over the next ten years.

“What we’re looking at here today is truly the future,” said Energy Minister and Peace River South MLA Blair Lekstrom. “We’re here to recognize and celebrate the first wind farm in British Columbia, something I can tell you we are very proud of here in B.C.”

Officials took turns thanking wind park builder and operator Altagas, Dawson Creek’s Peace Energy Cooperative, and Premier Gordon Campbell for making the project a reality.

The 34-turbine, 102 megawatt project, located in the Peace region, which generates more than one third of B.C.’s electricity, was approved under the province’s 2006 Call for Clean Power and began putting energy onto the grid on Thursday.

Environment Minister Barry Penner, and Prince George -Peace River MP Jay Hill also announced a one cent per kilowatt-hour incentive provided by the $1.5-billion ecoENERGY for Renewable Power program, which sets a target of increasing Canada's renewable electricity capacity by more than 4,000 megawatts.

The speakers made only oblique reference to B.C. Hydro’s recently rejected 2008 long term acquisition plan (LTAP), which could shift the course of future wind development in B.C. The LTAP also determines the balance of new power production versus conservation over the next ten years - a question looming large for many Peace residents concerned over the impact of the proposed Site C dam.

A new rock-bottom royalty plan aimed at luring oil and gas exploration from Alberta into B.C. went unmentioned. The phrase “clean, green energy” was repeated at length in reference to independent power projects.

Greg Amos reports for The Tyee

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