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Run-of-the-river and the BC election

Director of Organizing Carleen Pickard wrote in Canadian Perspectives (Autumn 2008) that, “The Council of Canadians has joined with environmental groups, labour organizations, citizens’ advocacy groups and sports organizations to call on the B.C. government to enact a moratorium and stop the reckless give-away of B.C.’s rivers and the control over public power. Council chapters in Powell River and Golden are opposing projects under way in their regions, while other chapters – Campbell River and Comox, for example – are working with their regional districts to support the moratorium…It’s time to turn out the lights on Run-of-River projects and the B.C. government’s privatization agenda.”

This weekend, “Delegates at CUPE BC’s 46th annual convention passed 21 resolutions, including an emergency resolution calling for a moratorium on run-of-river private power projects in BC…”

The Canadian Press reports today that, “The B.C. Liberals have been promoting run-of-the-river hydro as a green alternative to more power megaprojects…The New Democrats want a moratorium on such power projects, and their leader, Carole James, has accused the Liberals of selling off the province’s rivers and says there hasn’t been enough public consultation on the projects.”

NDP leader Carole James says the Liberals “are saying the water and the electricity will belong to the private company, not to British Columbians. Well, that’s a public resource and it belongs to us in this province and it needs to stay in public hands in this province.”

Steve Davis, president of the Independent Power Producers Association of B.C. (which represents more than 320 companies who produce power through run-of-the-river projects or by burning wood waste or natural gas), says, “The water belongs in all projects to citizens. All that happens is that the (independent power project) gets a licence, gets permission to divert a portion of water to a pipe, to a powerhouse and back to the creek. We rent that water and return it.”

The article notes, “California recently introduced green legislation that will affect — but not kill — the export of power from B.C. Hydro, the Crown corporation that buys all the power produced in B.C. by the run-of-river projects. Despite the B.C. Liberal government’s insistence that the run-of-river model is a source of green energy, earlier this month the California senate rejected efforts by electrical utilities to allow power from sources such B.C.’s run-of-river projects as renewable energy. Legislation obligates California to source 33 per cent of retail electricity sales from renewable sources by 2020.”

The provincial election in British Columbia takes place on May 12. “At dissolution of the legislature, the Liberals held 45 seats to the NDP’s 34. A redistribution of electoral boundaries increased the number of seats up for grabs this time to 85.”

Carleen Pickard’s ‘Taking Back the Power: Opposition to Private Run-of-River Projects in BC Runs Deep’ article is at http://canadians.org/publications/CP/2008/autumn/CP_autumn_08_12.html

CUPE’s media release is at http://www.cupe.bc.ca/5266

The full Canadian Press article is at http://www.cbc.ca/canada/bcvotes2009/story/2009/04/26/bc-votes-2009-rdp26.html

To read about BC’s Take Back the Power campaign, please go to http://www.publicpowerbc.ca/rivers-for-generations.