Kluane First Nation looks to go green with wind project

Kluane First Nation is looking at a greener future with the N’tsi (Wind) Energy Project, which would see three wind turbines put up between Destruction Bay and Burwash Landing.

Kluane First Nation is looking at a greener future with the N’tsi (Wind) Energy Project, which would see three wind turbines put up between Destruction Bay and Burwash Landing.

“We’re an isolated, diesel-powered community,” said Colin Asselstine, general manager of Kluane Community Development Corporation.

“By reducing the amount of diesel burned in the community, this project gives us the opportunity to both reduce our carbon footprint and better the environment.”

Each turbine would be 50 metres tall, not including the 12-metre long blades. Combined, the turbines would have a capacity of 285 kilowatts and would provide 570,000 kilowatt-hours of energy annually. That’s enough to replace 160,000 litres of diesel per year, roughly 27 per cent of Destruction Bay and Burwash Landing’s current consumption. ATCO Power Yukon will buy the wind energy generated at the site.

The project has been submitted to the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board and is now open to the public for comment.

Asselstine isn’t anticipating any major concerns, though.

“We don’t want to disturb anything,” he said. “We want to make sure it’s a renewable and green project. We want to make sure all our bases are covered and be ahead of the game.”

Beside studies on wind, the Kluane Community Development Corporation has conducted studies on potential wildlife impact. Birds and bats are of particular concern as they can collide, often fatally, with turbines or their blades.

“We’ve been doing a lot of studies on the site over the last three years specifically concerning birds,” said Asselstine.

The area along the shoreline was identified as a bird migration corridor so the location of the turbines was adjusted to be roughly 200 meters from the lake. Bird monitoring will continue for the duration of the project under Yukon College biologist Dave Mossop who has already identified 91 species of birds in the area.

A bat management plan is also in the works and will be overseen by wildlife biologist Brian Slough.

“Wind turbines have the potential to seriously impact bats,” he said. No studies have been conducted yet on bats near Kluane Lake, though monitoring will begin soon.

“This is a great opportunity to learn about bats in the area,” said Slough, admitting the full extent of the turbine’s impact will only be understood after they are in operation.

“We may find that there’s no migration through the area at that height, but we don’t know what we’re going to find,” he added.

The project is slated to run for 25 years, after which the turbines may be refurbished and continue to operate.

“We think this is the first step toward a great renewable-energy future for the community,” said Colin Asselstine. “Self-sufficiency is one of Kluane First Nation’s goals.”

The public consultation period for the project runs until June 21.

Contact Andrew Seal at andrew.seal@yukon-news.com

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