The province announced Thursday (Jan. 10) that proponents of the Upper Lillooet Hydro Project, proposed for an area northwest of Pemberton, have been granted a conditional Environmental Assessment Certificate.
A press release announcing the project’s approval said that a review conducted by the Environmental Assessment Office “concluded that the project is not expected to result in any significant adverse effects, based on the mitigation measures and conditions of the Environmental Assessment Certificate.”
The project calls for three run-of-river hydro facilities to be built on the Upper Lillooet River, North Creek and Boulder Creek with a combined capacity of 121 megawatts. It will also require 72 kilometres of transmission lines that will connect to the Innergex facility at Rutherford Creek.
The province also released a report containing reasoning behind the decision made by Minister of Environment Terry Lake and Minister of Energy, Mines and Natural Gas Rich Coleman. The ministers address feedback received during public comment periods on the project, much of which was negative and came from Pemberton-area residents.
“We understand the concerns raised by the public,” said the report. “It is our view that all relevant project-related concerns were adequately considered and addressed during (the) Environmental Assessment process.”
The ministers’ report also states that the Lil’wat Nation advised in December that it had come to terms with the proponent on an Impact Benefit Agreement and fully supported the project.
The certificate includes 37 legally-binding conditions that Creek Power Inc. — the majority of which is owned by Innergex Renewable Energy Inc. — is required to meet to be in compliance, said the release.
Some of the conditions of the certificate include maintenance of a minimum in-stream flow requirement on the affected bodies of water; adherance to environmental management and protection plans; contributions to the province’s grizzly bear monitoring program; undertaking construction work outside of sensitive periods for wildlife species, and more.
The estimated construction cost is $420 million, said the release, while construction activity will create an estimated 382 person-years of employment.
Innergex officials had been anticipating a decision on the certificate from the province this month. Construction is expected to begin in May, while operations could begin as early as the summer of 2015.