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NEWS: IPPs critiqued as ‘expensive’ power

CTV reports, “B.C.’s energy minister (Rich Coleman) says the province…has no plans for any more expensive private power contracts (with ‘independent power producers’). Coleman made the comments after a news report quoted the BC Hydro president (Dave Cobb) saying he expected the government to abandon the policy which requires it to buy private power at ten times the price it can produce on its own.”

PRIVATE POWER: “Open-market prices for electricity range from $4 to $52 per megawatt hour, but private power producers charge on average $65 per megawatt hour. New private sources coming on line average $124 per megawatt hour. Those costs are enormous to the public utility, and Hydro president Dave Cobb said in a call obtained by the Vancouver Sun that he expects the government to back off on the policy.”

SITE C: “(Coleman) said that the government is not considering contracts with any other private power producers at the moment, (but) is looking towards a new hydroelectric dam at Site C, near Fort St. John.” For a Council of Canadians critique of large dams (higher than 15 metres, Site C would be 60 metres in height), please see http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=7837. For more on Site C, see http://canadians.org/blog/?p=9166, http://canadians.org/blog/?p=9221 and http://canadians.org/blog/?p=2793.

CRITICS: “Critics took Cobb’s remark as proof that the policy to purchase new power from independent power producers is flawed. ‘Right now BC Hydro is on the hook for $30 billion in energy purchase agreements for energy that we don’t need and we sell at a loss south of the border,’ said Gwen Barlee of the Western Canada Wilderness Committee. …NDP leader Adrian Dix said the utility has to change course and abandon private power. ‘They acknowledge what’s obvious, which is what we’ve been saying for years,’ he said. ‘This is bad business that damaged BC Hydro and ratepayers are paying the price.'” For a series of Council of Canadians campaign blogs on ‘indpendent power projects’, please go to http://canadians.org/blog/?s=%22Independent+power%22.

NEXT STEPS: The Globe and Mail adds, “Energy Minister Rich Coleman has now ordered his staff to review the (Clean Energy) Act (because it was deemed responsible for much of Hydro’s escalating costs) and he expects to bring forward recommendations to cabinet in September. Amendments to the Clean Energy Act could be ready by the fall legislative session.”