Province grants tax relief for IPPs 

Water flows into state of the art kayak facilities at Rutherford Creek Power Project

The provincial government is encouraging the development of more independent power projects by offering small power producers a large break on their property taxes.

The proposed tax relief was announced on Monday morning as the switch was officially turned on the Rutherford Creek Power Project, which sent water rushing into the brand new kayak park on the banks of the creek.

"By providing this additional tax relief to IPPs we’re promoting investment in stable, reliable, clean energy sources for all British Columbians," said Barry Penner, the MLA representing Chilliwack-Kent, who was at Monday’s announcement at Rutherford Creek.

Penner, who has a personal interest in the power business, was speaking on behalf of B.C.’s Energy Minister Richard Neufeld and Finance Minister Gary Collins.

"Private investors will be better able to access and develop new energy resources while communities will reap the benefits of economic development and environmental improvement," he said.

For the Rutherford Creek power producers, the tax relief represents savings of more than half a million dollars, as the company’s property taxes shrink from roughly $1.2 million to $500,000.

"Rural area and any applicable municipal property taxes would remain unaffected, I want to assure you of that," said Penner.

"So it will be the province that will be taking up the slack."

Even with this reduction however, the project still contributes approximately $1 million per each year to the province in taxes, water rentals and Crown land leases.

The enticement to develop more projects could have large ramifications in the area, as the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District is a hotspot for IPP production.

"We’d like to see a master energy plan," said SLRD Chair Susan Gimse who has been critical of IPP projects in the past but also attended the Rutherford Creek ceremony.

This plan she said could identify the long-term goals in the area and would ensure that the regional district and other local government agencies don’t have to deal with the run of river applications on a piece by piece basis, as they have been doing historically.

That’s a key underlying issue for local kayakers too, as they fight to keep small run of river projects off their favourite creeks and rivers.

The Rutherford Creek was identified as one of their top 10 rivers to kayak in the Sea to Sky corridor.

Kayakers worked out a deal with the Rutherford Creek power producers to build an Olympic calibre kayak park next to the creek in exchange for losing the creek runs.

"I think (it) will be a major addition to B.C.’s infrastructure of sports facilities," said David Andrews, president of Rutherford Creek Power Project.

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