B.C.'s fifth wind farm will have 61 turbines and electricity output equivalent to supply for 54,000 homes, making it the largest in the province so far.
Site clearing for the Meikle Wind project began last fall on wind-swept peaks northwest of Tumbler Ridge, and California-based Pattern Energy expects to start construction in June with an expected completion date of late 2016.
Meikle Wind is the third in the Tumbler Ridge area, and the fourth in the region including Bear Mountain Wind near Dawson Creek. The only wind farm so far constructed outside the Peace region is at Cape Scott on the northern tip of Vancouver Island.
Northwest B.C. has significant potential for wind power as well, Energy Minister Bill Bennett said after a project announcement Tuesday in Tumbler Ridge. He added that the company's decision to invest $400 million shows the Site C dam isn't the death knell for independent power that some feared.
"Site C actually enables more renewable energy," Bennett said. "Wind is the cheapest renewable technology available today, and it has come down in cost significantly over the last five years."
BC Hydro CEO Jessica McDonald said the Crown corporation has several more wind projects being considered under its "standing offer" purchase program.
BC Hydro signed a 25-year power purchase agreement for the Meikle project in 2008. Pattern Energy took it over from Vancouver-based Finavera Wind Energy, which received four contracts for area projects in BC Hydro's 2008 clean energy call.
The environmental assessment certificate for Meikle Wind has 24 conditions, including a bird and bat monitoring and adaptive management plan and a reduced footprint to minimize habitat disturbance and visual effects.