Public meetings begin on geothermal power project 

Communites to be briefed on powerline routes

After several months of drilling and testing, some residents in the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District are about to get their first glimpse at the details of Canada’s first geothermal power project.

Geothermal energy has been used as a renewable energy source for almost a century but the site near Meager Creek, 70 kilometres west of Pemberton, is the first in Canada.

Drilling on the second of two test wells will be completed in February. Once the drilling is finished the wells will be tested for steam and heat, which is used to generate geothermal energy.

Depending on the results of these tests the company running the operation, Western Geopower, must decide if and when it intends to proceed with a geothermal plant.

If a geothermal plant is built then a 230 kilovolt transmission line must also be installed. This will be the focus of Western Geopower’s presentations to people in Birken and Pemberton on Dec. 8 and 9.

The technical program manager at Meager Creek, Frank Baumann, said management had decided to proceed with an "alternative" plan for the powerline route to avoid the controversial Pemberton Meadows area. If this alternative route is approved then it will pass through lands belonging to two different First Nations’ bands, the Lilwat and Xit’olacw, as it turns off the Lillooet logging road at Railroad Creek headed north of Pemberton Meadows, then back towards Highway 99 at the Birkenhead River.

The lines would then follow the river to an interconnection point with the B.C. Hydro line at Poole Creek, about 18 km north of Pemberton.

Without the transmission lines there is no project. Western Geopower might be sitting on 125 Megawatts of energy, which is enough to power 80,000 homes for a lifetime, but they still have to get the energy from the site to wear it can be used.

"The philosophy in the end is to make sure that everybody is completely informed," said Baumann.

The first meeting starts Wednesday, Dec. 8 at 5 p.m. in the Birken Fire Hall. The second meeting, in Pemberton, will start 5 p.m. Dec. 9 at Signal Hill school.


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