A pair of wind power projects, proposed to be constructed near Summerland, would generate enough electricity to power around 5,000 homes.
The Shinish Creek North and South Wind Power Projects would be set up around 30 kilometres west of Summerland, south of the Princeton-Summerland Road. The proposal, presented last week, would see the work taking place next year with the project becoming operational late in 2013.
Zero Emission Energy Developments is the company behind the projects.
Alastair King, president and CEO of Zero Emission Energy Developments, said the projects would employ 50 to 100 people during the construction phase and three to four people at each site when the work is completed.
“The benefits are huge,” he said. “It’s a massive project.”
Wind power, by its nature, does not operate all the time, but King said the plant would produce power 35 to 40 per cent of the time. That power would be fed into the province’s electrical grid.
While company representatives say the projects will provide a reliable and renewable source of power, free from greenhouse gas and air contaminant emissions, environmental groups have questions about the effects of the projects.
Jim Turnbull, a member of the South Okanagan Naturalists Club, said environmental studies are needed.
“So far, they haven’t released much information about the project,” he said. “There are lots of questions but no answers.”
Turnbull said one concern is about the effects of the projects on the sandhill crane, since the development is along the crane’s migratory route.
Other concerns are about noise pollution and the effects on birds and bats in the area.
“Wind farms are very negative to bats,” he said. “Some of the bats in this area are endangered species.”
Turnbull said he is still waiting to see environmental studies before determining whether the proposed projects would be good or bad for the area.
King said the projects would have to pass through some stringent provincial environmental requirements before they could be constructed.
He added that the response to the projects has been mostly positive so far, although there has been some hesitation.
Summerland mayor Janice Perrino said she would like to learn more about the proposed project.
“I think we’ve got to be watchful of what’s going on,” she said.
She added that wind power generation in the area could prove difficult since there are times when the area gets a lot of wind and other times when there is little wind.