Progressing the paperwork -- Off British Columbia

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A number of stage-setting deals for what may be the first offshore wind station in Canadian waters have been completed in recent weeks by the project's sponsor, NaiKun Wind Development Inc of Vancouver. The company is hoping for a 2009 construction start on the first 320 MW of its proposed offshore wind farm in Hecate Strait off the coast of Queen Charlotte Islands, British Columbia (BC).

NaiKun has signed two memoranda of understanding with Haida First Nation, whose traditional territory encompasses the island archipelago. The first establishes a commercial relationship with the Haida Power Authority (HPA), which will be part of a NaiKun subsidiary responsible for operating and maintaining the project. It also deals with employment and training for Haida workers as well as the marketing of greenhouse gas credits from the wind farm. The agreement hinges on the Haida being satisfied the project will not damage the region's environment. The area, also known as Haida Gwaii, is particularly rich in crab and seabird life.

"We have invested several years in educating ourselves about this project and energy development, as well as educating these developers about the concerns for Haida Gwaii. Provided this project meets our conditions, we look forward to a long and fruitful relationship with NaiKun," says Arnie Bellis, vice-president of the Council of Haida Nation. NaiKun has filed draft terms of reference for its environmental assessment with the BC government, which essential identifies potential issues and how they will be dealt with.

Transmission benefit

In a second memorandum, the two groups have agreed to assess the feasibility of linking Haida Gwaii to BC's main power grid. "The problem of clean energy supply on Haida Gwaii has been a long standing issue since we are not connected to the BC grid and most of our power comes by burning diesel," says Bellis. NaiKun plans to connect its project to the BC grid at Prince Rupert, a city on the northern mainland. Since the project is located about three quarters of the distance across the strait from Prince Rupert, NaiKun and the Haida have developed a plan to extending an additional link to the islands that will deliver power from the wind site and give Haida Gwaii access to the provincial grid when the wind is not blowing.

It is a solution that provides the Haida with a sustainable economic opportunity, says Bellis. The majority of the project, called HaidaLink, would be owned by HPA, with NaiKun retaining the balance.

Meanwhile, NaiKun has also recently signed agreements with Siemens Power Transmission & Distribution for the construction of the transmission system for the first phase, and with Germanischer Lloyd Wind Energy, which will "provide quality management services for the design, engineering and construction" of the project.

The challenge now will be to secure a contract for the project's output. BC Hydro, the province's government-owned monopoly utility, plans to issue an all-source call for power this year, to which NaiKun says it plans to submit a bid. The company eventually intends to build 1750 MW offshore in five phases on the identified site.

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