Monday, September 29, 2008

Whistler Announces Renewable Energy Project Offsets Mountains' Annual Energy Consumption

The Fitzsimmons Creek Hydro Project, located entirely within Whistler Blackcomb's operating area, will produce 33.5 gigawatt hours of hydro electricity per year – the equivalent of powering the ski resort's winter and summer operations including 38 lifts, 17 restaurants, 269 snowguns and countless other buildings and services.
The project is already under construction and is being developed by Fitzsimmons Creek Hydro Limited Partnership, part of a joint venture between Innergex Renewable Energy and Ledcor Power Group. Ledcor CMI Limited is the contractor for the project, and is the major contractor for other hydro projects in the Sea to Sky corridor.
"While we have a solid track record on conservation, this is our first major renewable energy project and we are thrilled to see it come to fruition after six years of project assessments, careful planning, and stakeholder discussions. We can now firmly step forward in producing a renewable energy project that makes sense, and to help us move ever-closer to our goal of achieving a net zero footprint within our operating area" says Arthur DeJong, Whistler Blackcomb's Mountain Planning and Environmental Resource Manager.
The Fitzsimmons Creek has an abundance of water, the necessary vertical drop, and it is not a major fish-bearing stream, nor is the creek used recreationally within the project area. The creek is already tied extensively into Whistler Blackcomb's snowmaking system, and much of the area that will need to be developed runs along an existing access road for Whistler Blackcomb's operations. The project will not require above-ground hydro lines and the lines can travel underground in a previously disturbed area.
The Fitzsimmons Creek Hydro Project will have a single turbine with a capacity of 7.5 megawatt, and the power generated by the project will be sold to British Columbia's hydro electric utility, BC Hydro. The project will be among the first to use BC Hydro's Standing Offer Program that was created under the BC government's 2007 Energy Plan.
In addition to being a significant milestone in Whistler Blackcomb's environmental policy, the project also supports the Resort Municipality of Whistler's 2020 plan, which lays out a vision for success through 2020 based on the three pillars of sustainability; economic, social and environmental. "From what I understand about the project, it supports Whistler2020's Energy Vision of providing local sources of low impact, renewable energy", says Dan Wilson, Whistler2020 Energy Task Force Member. "It is an early stepping stone towards Whistler2020's goal of a sustainable Whistler".
Construction is currently underway and the project is expected to be operational by 2010. A series of open houses will be conducted in the fall of 2008 offering tours of the construction site and providing an opportunity for the community to learn more about the project.