Race Rocks is a complex comprised of one island (Great Race Rocks) and a number of smaller islets and rocky reefs along the northeastern shore of Juan de Fuca Strait, separated from Vancouver Island by Race Passage and Bentinck Island (Figure 1). Race Rocks is the southern most point on Vancouver Island and is located approximately 22km southeast of Victoria, BC. The area was established as a BC Ecological Reserve in 1980 and proposed as a federal marine protected area (MPA) in 1998. The Reserve is bounded by the 20-fathom (36.6m) depth contour and encompasses 227 hectares, of which 225 hectares are seabed. Race Rocks Ecological Reserve (and subsequent MPA) was created to protect the diverse, high current influenced intertidal and subtidal invertebrate, marine algae and fish community and marine birds and pinnipeds (seals and sea lions) that use Race Rocks for breeding and non-breeding purposes.
Lester B. Pearson College of the Pacific (Pearson College) operates several provincially owned buildings and associated equipment located on Great Race Rocks including a guardian residence, a guest house, a concrete boat dock (jetty) and launch, a boat house, a tank room, a generator room with two diesel generators, two diesel tanks, fuel pumping equipment and a fixed crane and crane shed (see Figure 2, Section 2.1). The Canadian Coast Guard leases a light tower and support infrastructure also located on Great Race Rocks.
In 1997, the Coast Guard installed solar panels and batteries to provide power to the energy demanding foghorn and light tower operations. Since 1997, Pearson College has been responsible for raising funds to operate the diesel generators that supply electricity to the rest of the island. Due to the increasing economic and environmental costs of operating the diesel generator and the recognized potential for developing a sustainable energy system that would create a self sufficient power supply to the island, Pearson College investigated the feasibility of designing and operating an alternate energy system for Great Race Rocks.
Following the results of a feasibility study from research conducted through the Institute of Integrated Energy Systems at the University of Victoria (IESVic), it was concluded that:
- sufficient renewable resources (tidal, wind and solar) were available to develop an integrated energy system that was capable of providing a reliable power supply to Race Rocks, and,
- tidal energy would have the least environmental impact due to the size of system required and would provide the most reliable power source with the least amount of required storage (Niet and McLean 2001).
In 2005, a partnership between Pearson College, EnCana Corporation and Clean Current Power Systems Incorporated to build, install, operate and monitor a 65kW free-stream tidal generator in Race Rocks Ecological Reserve was announced. Installation of the proposed tidal turbine generator (at a water depth of 20m) and the supporting submarine cable was planned for fall and winter 2005 followed by operation and maintenance testing commencing in 2006 and continuing for a five year period. Due to the Ecological Reserve and MPA status of Race Rocks, environmental monitoring was required at various stages of construction (prior to, during and post construction). This report summarizes the environmental monitoring tasks completed between April 2005 and October 2006.