Cariboo Regional District Area D director Deb Bischoff (left) and  Jane Nichol

Cariboo Regional District Area D director Deb Bischoff (left) and Jane Nichol

Company explores hydro project on Quesnel and Hen Ingram lakes

There are concerns about a proposed hydro generation project for Quesnel Lake and Hen Ingram Lake.

There are concerns about a proposed hydro generation project for Quesnel Lake and Hen Ingram Lake, Cariboo Regional District director Joan Sorley said at a CRD meeting last week.

“Generally the people in Horsefly are very frustrated and completely against it,” Sorley told the board Friday during a presentation by the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.

“People are concerned because they are scared it’s going to ruin fishing, affect recreational access and impact the level of Quesnel Lake.”

The ministry’s crown lands section head Jane Nichol told the board so far the company proposing the venture, Eclipsol Energy Corp.’s Hen Ingram Power Corp., only has an investigation license.

“There are several steps they’d have to do before they could do any type of development,” Nichol said.

However, she said, the ministry has received 36 comments concerning the project since it was advertised.

The range of concerns were about the actual development of the project, rather than the investigative phase.

People raised issue with the cost of the project and repairs to fish and wildlife.

Using Quesnel Lake as the lower reservoir and Hen Ingram Lake as the upper reservoir, the project would involve a pumped storage facility that stores off-peak power and producing electricity to supply high demand by moving water between reservoirs at different elevations with the simple combination of water.

The intake would be located near the shoreline of Hen Ingram and the powerhouse would be located near the Quesnel Lake shoreline, and an approximately five-meter-diameter penstock or tunnel would be used to connect the two reservoirs.

An investigation license can have a term of up to five years.

The licenses requires the company to do a feasibility study, baseline studies, an environmental overview, acquiring environmental assessment certificates and negotiating an electricity purchase agreement if required.

Under the license, the proponent must also meet with potentially affected First Nations, public and local governments.

The license does not authorize the project development, it’s only an investigation, she stressed.

“They have to do a subsequent application to do phase two which is development of the water power project,” Nichol explained.

The guidance document for the development plan is 119 pages long and is not a small undertaking, she added.

Projects for more than 50 megawatts required an environmental assessment certificate, which includes First Nations participation.

Proponents are expected to undertake early and ongoing consultation with federal, provincial and local governments, and the general population.

Yearly the ministry will ask for updates, including base line studies.

“There is an opportunity to replace the license once, but that would only happen if something beyond the company’s control prevented it from collecting data,” Nichol said. “The government has put the measure in place to stop people from speculating on water sources development, not taking an action, and effectively stopping anyone else.”

Aside from Hen Ingram, Eclipsol also has investigative licenses for similar proposals on nearby Whiffle Lake and Keno Lake.