By Lloyd Dolha
At the north end of the picturesque Harrison Lake, the Douglas First Nation is developing a state-of-the art run-of-river hydro project bringing reliable clean energy and much needed jobs for the 213-member community.
“Right now there is a 10 and 25 man camp set up on reserve to facilitate the workers for the 200 man camp,” said Chief Darryl Peters. “Construction may be starting around the end of April at the latest.”
Working with Vancouver-based Cloudworks Energy Inc. the Douglas First Nation will take part in the development of five run-of-river hydro-electric power plant facilities on the Upper Harrison and Stave River watersheds.
Peters has worked for seven years to get the isolated community hooked up to the BC Hydro power grid and rid the community of the diesel generators that provided unclean and unsafe power to the community since the 1970’s.
When BC Hydro constructed the transmissions lines for the grid in the 1950’s, the Douglas First Nation lost many, homes, hay fields, as well as traditional hunting and fishing grounds just to make room for the lines.
The proposed $300 million project is expected to create 400 person years of employment during the four-year construction phase and 20 permanent positions during operations, providing electricity to 40,000 homes.
The Douglas First Nation will have ownership of the Douglas and Tipella Creek hydro projects and realize millions in annual royalties from the project that will benefit future generations and allow the Douglas First Nation to implement economic development opportunities in other areas for their own purposes.
The project will provide green, renewable energy with minimal impact on the local environment. These include measures to mitigate the project’s impact on fish and wildlife habitat and the protection of areas of cultural significance.
“We’re mobilizing and preparing the site for construction,” said Nick Andrews, principal and director of Cloudworks Energy Inc. “In the long-term, the project will be of substantial benefit to the Douglas First Nation.”