The Province reports that, “West Kootenay citizens are fighting a pending run-of-river power project… Purcell Green Power Inc.’s proposal for five dams on two whitewater creeks, Glacier and Howser, is in the environmental-assessment process. The private company has already signed an energy-purchase agreement for about 90 megawatts with B.C. Hydro.”
“The dam plan has riled a wide cross-section of nature lovers and tourism-oriented business owners in the region, with more than 1,100 people flooding an Environmental Assessment Office town-hall meeting in Kaslo in June to voice opposition to the project, says Lee-Ann Unger of the West Kootenay Eco-Society. More than 1,000 environmental-impact statements have been submitted and more than 90 per cent of those are negative, according to Unger’s count. The Environmental Assessment Office is reviewing submissions.”
“Unger says one particular submission, from the Ktunaxa First Nation, Okanagan Nation Alliance and Department of Fisheries and Oceans, proves the Glacier/Howser project should be rejected ‘out of hand.’ Project plans don’t justify the potential impact to the fish and fish-habitat resources in Glacier and Howser Creeks, the joint report says. The report says losing bull trout will have negative social and economic impact in the region.”
“Unger said statements by Environment Minister Barry Penner in a letter to lawmakers in California, who were concerned about environmental standards for river power production in B.C., mean the Glacier/Howser project should be tossed. A run-of-river project’s owner must meet specific fish-centric conditions and must maintain adequate stream flows from a biological perspective, Penner wrote to California’s renewable energy committee in March. ‘Really, if Penner is going to stand on his word [Glacier/Howser] should be halted immediately,’ Unger said. Penner declined a request for an interview, as the proposal is under environmental assessment.”
As noted in a July 29 campaign blog at http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=1574, the Globe and Mail reports this morning that, “After hearings that lasted almost a year, the B.C. Utilities Commission has rejected BC Hydro’s long-term acquisition plan as ‘not in the public interest’…”
“Some analysts say the ruling – which shocked the government and the stock market – indicates B.C. has been over-estimating the amount of power the province needs in order to justify the development of independent power projects (also known as run of river projects).”
“The ruling delivered a quick blow to independent power producers (IPPs), with shares for Plutonic Power Corp. plunging about 24 per cent yesterday, falling $1.00 to $3.08.”
“Dow Jones Newswires said the commission’s decision ‘could put the development of new renewable-power projects in the province on hold.’”
“But Blair Lekstrom, B.C.’s Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, tried to steady the market by saying the government remains committed to pursuing the development of more clean, renewable energy through IPP’s.“
“Lori Winstanley, director of strategic communications and campaigns for COPE, the Canadian Office and Professional Employees Union, said the (236-page) ruling has three key aspects: the rejection of the long-term acquisition plan, a refusal to endorse the clean energy call, and a refusal to allow BC Hydro to downgrade the capacity of Burrard thermal.”
(The COPE media release on the commission’s decision is at http://www.cope378.ca/news/utilities-watchdog-bites-private-power.)
“On the rejection of the overall long-term acquisition plan, Bob Elton (CEO of BC Hydro) said BC Hydro will be back before the utilities commission next year with a revised proposal.”
Maude Barlow’s Georgia Straight op-ed ‘Run-of-river projects: Not green, not public, not for us’ can be read at http://www.straight.com/article-220116/maude-barlow-runofriver-projects-not-green-not-public-not-us.
To read additional Council of Canadians commentary on run of river projects, please go to http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=420.