Barkley Energy OVERVIEWOffshore deposits of oil and gas are undeveloped due to a moratorium in effect for exploratory drilling. However, recent efforts to have the moratorium lifted are currently underway, sparking considerable debate. The offshore region has been identified as having:
- good potential for oil and gas in Tofino-Fuca Basin (the total for Winona, Tofino-Fuca and Georgia Basins is 12 to 14 trillion cubic feet)
- good potential for large offshore hydrothermal deposits (beneath continental slope)
- moderate potential for geothermal resources
In the Barkley region, a number of small hydroelectric generators (one on the Ucuelet/Port Alberni Highway) have been supplying power to the BC Hydro grid for many years. These existing facilities operate with small dams or run-of-the-river diversion structures to divert water from smaller rivers and streams through pipes to the generating station. There are also a number of micro hydro plants in areas where there is no access to the electric power grid.
For small and micro hydro developments, 1 MW of installed capacity will supply enough power for about 550 homes - more than enough, for example, to power the new residential development proposed by Ahousaht for Flores Island in the Clayoquot region.
At the present time there is only one short-listed project for a river hydroelectric plant in Port Alberni. A considerable amount of research went into the development of a wave energy proposal in Barkley Sound but this project was not short-listed. Other companies are involved in researching the potential for wind power generation on the West Coast. These include:
- Sea Breeze Energy Inc., proceeding with plans to erect a test site on Chrow Island (Barkley Sound) to collect the data needed to determine the feasibility of a wind energy farm.
- Hesquiaht Wind Farm Ltd., who has submitted a request to the province for an investigative permit that will allow them to establish up to four wind testing towers on crown land in the vicinity of Hesquiat Lake.
- Port Albion Wind Farm Ltd. (the same proponent as for the Hesquiaht site) who have submitted a request of a two year investigative permit to investigate wind turbine power generation on unsurveyed Crown land between Port Albion and the Maggie River.
- AquaEnergy Group Ltd., an American company who have been trying to identify a partner in the Region interested in a joint venture wave-power project. Ma-Mook has been approached for discussion.
Hupacasath First Nation has been shortlisted by BC Hydro to develop a small run of the river project, diverting water from China Creek, putting it through a turbine system and then returning it to the river further downstream. This 2-3 MW system, costing 1.5-2 million/MW to develop is anticipated to generate $600K per year in revenue for the Nation. (See news article above)
Two potential wave energy sites were identified by BC Hydro's Cartography study; the one with the greatest potential, Vancouver Island Offshore Wave Power Generation Project, is located in Barkley Sound near Ucluelet. An independent company, Sea Breeze Energy Inc. is proceeding with plans to collect data to determine the viability of this site. The province has received an application for two year test licenses for two other sites in the Region - one near Hesquiaht Lake and the other near Port Albion.