McBride Hydro Project A Go

They have sweated along the banks of Castle Creek since 2003, and now four Robson Valley residents have their chance.

Harold Edwards, Pietro Caputo, John Wheeler and Jeff Heimbecker were announced June 21 as B.C. Hydro’s nextClean Power Call for their proposed hydro-electric project near McBride.

They will begin construction as soon as possible building roads and bridges to the site 18 kilometres up Castle Creek on an unnamed tributary.

The project is set to generate six megawatts of power to be sold into the grid. The four business partners have financed the project with their own funds thus far, with the total cost likely to run as high as $16 million.

Caputo says the four partners worked on hydro projects together before they founded Castle Mountain Hydro Ltd.

“We just said, ‘It might be a good idea to start one of these projects. We’re doing it for everyone else and it seems like they’re making money.”

They have been taking data from the stream for the past six years. They did Google Earth studies on the 15-m wide creek to determine places that had a good distance in elevation and steady flow rate.

“We’ve cut trails and sweated and got cold and wet,” Edwards says. “It’s a huge amount of work we’ve put into it up to this point.”

Castle Mountain Hydro will likely employ up to a dozen local people this year.

The project falls under B.C. Hydro’s Call for Clean Power program, launched in 2008, which encourages the development of wind, hydro-electric and geothermal plants.

Caputo says there is a lot of money needed and a lot of sweat.

“It’s the adrenaline that keeps us going I think.”

John Wheeler and Pietro Caputo are industrial electricians. Harold Edwards has a degree in geology and has built several small hydro projects on his farm. Jeff Heimbecker is a fabricator and welder.

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