Ryan River project taking comments 

British Columbia’s Environmental Assessment Office is now taking comments about a proposed run-of-river hydro project to be located north of the Village of Pemberton.

The Ryan River Hydro Project is a joint venture between Ryan River Power Inc. and Regional Power Inc., a Toronto-based subsidiary of Manulife Financial that operates six hydro plants throughout Canada.

The Ryan River plant, to be located about 18 km northwest of Pemberton, is a 145-megawatt project that seeks to use flows from the river of up to 45 cubic metres per second so that it can generate electricity at a powerhouse.

It will utilize a 26.5 km transmission line and link the project to a substation near the intersection of Rutherford Creek and the Green River, according to the project’s terms of reference.

It aims to provide “clean, alternative” energy and help the province offset its use of energy imported from places like Alberta and the United States.

All water diverted for generating power will be returned to the Ryan River below the powerhouse’s location, according to the description. Developers expect to locate the powerhouse on the southwest side of the Ryan River, located just a short distance from a bridge crossing that was washed out in Pemberton’s 2003 flood.

The river has to be examined more deeply before the project’s proponents can decide how to divert the river’s flows through the powerhouse, according to a project description from Feb. 14.

The powerhouse will have three to five turbine-generator units and other equipment commonly found in hydroelectric facilities. Developers also hope to install a flood protection berm, tailrace and spawning channel with salmonid ponds.

The project’s terms of reference note that it is expected to cause “unavoidable” fish habitat losses, a scenario that has necessitated a Fisheries Act Authorization and a review process through the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency.

Regional Power Inc. hopes to commission the project in the spring of 2012, subject to approval from the EAO, which ensures that major projects are developed in a “sustainable manner,” according to its website.

Though the project has just begun “officially” accepting comments, it’s already generated controversy within Pemberton and elsewhere. Signs along Pemberton Meadows Road implore people to stop the project.

Comments can be submitted until midnight on Dec. 15 by mail to Project Assessment Director Derek Griffin or by e-mail to eaoinfo@gov.bc.ca.

There will be an open house for the project on Thursday, Dec. 4 at the Old Pemberton Community Centre from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. At 7:30 p.m. the EAO will offer a presentation on the assessment process and the project’s proponent will be present.

Several calls to Regional Power Inc. for information on the project were not returned.

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