Reframing IPPs? 

Renaissance offers community ownership; Start-up company trying to reframe power projects

A group of hydrologists, engineers and financiers approached Squamish council this week in the hopes of reshaping the debate around independent power projects (IPPs) by structuring them with community ownership.

Guy Heywood spoke for a start-up company called Renaissance Power. He framed Squamish's opportunity against Whistler's carbon neutral efforts, and warned the district of coming greenhouse gas costs that the province will charge in the next three years.

"My part in this is to find a marriage between the public sector and the private sector in the first risk stages of a community power project (CPP)," said Heywood. "The next stage of development I'd like to see is Squamish becoming the owner of this project, which is essentially doing Whistler one better."

Heywood said the CPPs would likely be run of river, and one of his associates said Mashiter Creek and Squamish River each hold promise. Because of the province's Standing Offer Program, which offers money per kilowatt-hour, Renaissance is proposing projects of less than 10 megawatts with revenues that could reach $2.8 billion and 33,000 tons of carbon offsets.

Further, he said, the community ownership of the facility will pacify much of the opposition run of river projects are faced with, though he will still have to deal with the recreational community as well as some environmentalists. To that end, he implored council to enter into an agreement of intent, and to direct staff to prepare a report for in camera and for the committee of the whole.

However, council said that was premature.

"We want to know from the public whether they endorse us going down this road," said Councillor Doug Race.

According to Heywood, most of his dealings with local government have been done in camera, and so he kept all details to himself. The company has cut at least one deal with Anmore for a 250 kilowatt run of river project.

Race said council has already discussed the idea, but that they deliberately arranged to have Heywood appear in the public forum in the hopes of attracting first media attention and then public input. There was also talk of presenting the idea to the community in a forthcoming public meeting, perhaps the one in late March that deals with the budget.

Heywood said if council rejected the business relationship, then Renaissance would pursue an opportunity as an IPP, though he did not specify which waterway the group had in mind.

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