July 11, 2003 Features & Images » Feature Story

Feature - Divide and Conquer 

Private energy companies given free reign to run our rivers for "green" hydro generation

Page 3 of 6

And the community is now facing down another IPP on the Ryan River.

Robbie Stevens, a member of Pemberton Residents for Responsible Development, says, "The Ryan is the next one on the block. Miller Creek IPP went unnoticed until the hydro line situation arose. The Ryan project hasn’t even figured out their power line routing, so they’re going to go ahead with the project and figure out the routing later.

"But, in my opinion, the biggest conflict here is that one of B.C. Hydro’s four Green Energy criteria was that local values will not be compromised," said Stevens.

"We had the nine SLRD Board members unanimously vote against the Ryan IPP, but the process is going ahead, so how exactly are B.C. Hydro valuing local public involvement?

"It would be nice to see this project stopped, to show we actually live in a democracy. But it’s such a demand driven model, rather than being conservation focused. It’s a macro problem in a micro setting. The environmental ramifications are huge. And the irony is that tourism is the number two industry in this province."

Stuart Smith echoed this sentiment:

"It’s ironic that there is such a huge focus on run-of-the-river development in this region and yet it generates huge sums from tourism, more than anywhere in western Canada, more than Banff," he said.

The SLRD report identified the proliferation of power lines as a key issue for the region, particularly given our dependence on tourism. The government’s response? Amend the existing legislation to allow IPPs to hook into the existing transmission lines without public consultation or regulation by the B.C. Utilities Commission.

B.C. Hydro is offering businesses green power certificates, a coup to those seeking LEEDs (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) accreditation, by crediting one megawatt hour of "green" electricity to them. An electron is an electron, so it’s not as though you can actually distinguish the environmental halo of the electrons you are buying from the grid, but, as B.C. Hydro says on its website, "Consider the public relations benefits of being able to announce that you are purchasing enough Green Power Certificates to offset the impacts of 100 per cent of the electricity used by one of your offices or facilities, or one of your plant processes."

n some circles, that’s called greenwashing. But it’s sold a lot of power in a deregulated Californian market, despite there being no way to trace whether your energy actually came from a nuclear or diesel facility.

To meet the surging demand for power south-of-the-border, B.C. Hydro is negotiating Electricity Purchase Agreements (EPA’s) with qualified IPPs, and there’s no shortage of contenders. Seventy submissions were received at the most recent call, ( with seven times more generation potential than B.C. Hydro was even seeking), of which 30 projects were pre-qualified. Amongst these are Ledcor’s plans for Ashlu Creek, Sigurd Creek and Fitzsimmons Creek, and Cloudworks’ plans for Mkw’alts (or Ure) Creek at Mt Currie, Rutherford Creek, and the Ryan River joint venture on Pemberton’s Ryan River.

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