Investigating offshore potential in British Columbia

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A Vancouver company is planning to monitor the wind resource at eight offshore sites along British Columbia's west coast. Sea Breeze Energy Inc has received investigative permits from Lands and Water BC at four locations and expects to have permits for the other four soon. It is now working with the Coast Guard and federal fisheries department to get permission to install the towers and monitoring equipment, says president Tony Duggleby. Sea Breeze plans to collect data for a year before deciding how to proceed. Ideally, it would like to zero in on sites with 100-200 MW of potential. In the meantime, the company expects to file project applications with the BC Environmental Assessment Office this month, a process Duggleby expects to be lengthy. "We're the first people in the door really in British Columbia. The environmental assessment office has never seen anything like this come across their desk before, so we're all holding each other's hand and finding our way through the gloom, trying to figure how we are going to approach this." One of the proposed sites is off the west coast of Vancouver Island, while the others are in the Strait of Georgia, which separates the island from the lower mainland. Duggleby does not expect to begin development until 2004, but he says progress on shore would probably not be faster. The province owns 92% of BC's landmass and trying to develop projects on public land raises issues surrounding the tenure granted to forest companies. "We're still trying to find a way into that. But in the meantime, we thought we'd look offshore, quite frankly because this is one of the few jurisdictions in the world where it's probably easier."

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