Agricultural Wind Energy Production Study Generates Big Potential in the Cariboo-Chilcotin

British Columbia Cattlemen

2012-Wind is one of the fastest growing forms of renewable electricity. Wind energy enables agricultural producers to become electricity independent and to diversify beyond conventional income sources creating more stable financial conditions for agricultural producers. Despite its potential, few small-scale wind projects have been built in British Columbia. This lack of wind projects is attributed to agricultural producers being reluctant to install wind turbines without clear information as to the wind energy production potential, and the return on investment for installing turbines on agricultural land.

In early 2011, the British Columbia Cattlemen's Association, with funding support from Northern Development, BC Hydro, and the Ministry of Agriculture, began an agricultural wind production feasibility study with BC Agriculture Research & Development Corporation. This project is determining the circumstances where small-scale wind energy projects are economically attractive in rural British Columbia within the agricultural sector.

To achieve this, the project is working directly with six agricultural producers in the Cariboo-Chilcotin and northern British Columbia to assess each site's wind energy potential and economic feasibility. The project will also investigate creative ways to reduce the cost of wind energy production through aggregated purchasing agreements and maintenance programs, creative financing arrangements and available funding. The project will also highlight and suggest amendments to any regulatory barriers that may prohibit or delay small-scale wind energy projects in British Columbia.

"As stewards of the land it is important to our membership to be able to be a part of supplying energy to our population in an environmentally friendly method if possible. The opportunity to partner with Northern Development, BC Hydro and the Ministry of Agriculture to ensure that the project is meeting the necessary requirements to be feasible is of the utmost importance."

Kevin Boon, General Manager, BC Cattlemen's Association

"The importance of this project in identifying areas that are suitable for power generation using wind power is extremely important. The concept of producing energy from a source that occurs naturally with no harmful emissions needs no explanation in its benefits. However, this generation cannot be facilitated everywhere and it is important that we look at the feasibility of different areas to make the best possible choices in where they are developed."

Kevin Boon, General Manager, BC Cattlemen's Association

"While cattle producers see an opportunity to see some economic return on these ventures, they also feel that it is an excellent opportunity to augment the efforts they already practice to protect the environment. By helping to produce safe clean power, now and for the future, they help to ensure that the generations to come have the ability to enjoy tomorrow what we have today."

Kevin Boon, General Manager, BC Cattlemen's Association

Positive Economic Impacts in the Cariboo

The study will determine under what circumstances small-scale wind energy projects are economically feasible in British Columbia. If successful, a provincial-wide wind energy program may be developed. This program could be available to all agricultural producers in British Columbia. This program, by working with agricultural producers to install wind energy turbines, could help improve the agricultural sector's competitiveness, economic viability, and sustainability. Furthermore, the installation of wind energy turbines will support the development of the renewable energy sector in the Cariboo-Chilcotin Region. This development will result in the creation of jobs at all stages of project development, including turbine construction, installation, and maintenance.