Whistler to pay premium price for green energy 

Municipality signs up Spring Creek fire hall for B.C. Hydro’s Green Power Certificates

The municipality will spend more on their hydro bills at the new Spring Creek fire hall to ensure the power is coming from environmentally friendly sources.

For a year’s worth of electricity at the fire hall, estimated to be about 340,000 kilowatt hours, the municipality will pay an extra $6,800. The regular cost for power is five cents for each kilowatt hour. For so-called green power, Hydro is charging seven cents.

Whistler is one of 20 charter customers who have signed up for B.C. Hydro’s recently launched Green Power Certificates power program.

The program is designed to recognize the green power pumping into the hydro grid from low-impact, socially responsible independent power producers.

"It fits in with the overall community values of protecting the environment," said Brian Barnett, general manager of engineering and public works for the RMOW.

Apart from the direct environmental benefits from buying green power, Barnett said the program is also a particularly good fit for the fire hall, which is being built to green building standards.

"I didn’t want to go too big," said Barnett, because Hydro’s program is still a pilot project.

Although there are higher costs for the green power, there are also added benefits, said Brenda Goehring, manager of B.C. Hydro’s Green and Alternative Energy Division.

"There’s lots of reasons why people want to buy green power," she said.

She pointed to striving for sustainability, practising environmentally sound actions and reaching environmental targets as a few of the pluses of the certificate program.

"Customers are increasingly interested in premium products like Green Power Certificates that help them meet their environmental goals and build a competitive edge," she added.

On top of this she said that the program encourages the production of green energy throughout the province.

"By purchasing Green Power Certificates they are supporting the development of additional green energy in B.C.," she said.

The money is being used to buy new and additional green energy and will directly increase the amount of green energy in the system.

"That $7,000 will result in a net environmental benefit," said Andrew Pape-Salmon, director of sustainable energy program in the Vancouver office of the Pembina Institute for Appropriate Development.

"When a municipality purchases green power it sends a strong signal to other consumers."

Most of the green energy is coming from run-of-river projects, most of which are operated by Independent Power Producers.

These small hydro projects, like the ones planned on the Rutherford and Miller Creeks in Pemberton and the Fitzsimmons Creek in Whistler, meet Hydro’s green criteria.

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