Dokie Ridge wind farm near Chetwynd B.C. in 2010. B.C.’s existing wind energy is mostly near the Peace River dams in northeastern B.C. with run-of-river mainly in the southwest. (Black Press files)

B.C. examines new directions for renewable electricity projects

Municipal utilities, restoring B.C. Hydro ownership on table, Michelle Mungall says

The B.C. NDP government’s cancellation of B.C. Hydro’s contract power program is a step toward new ways of adding clean energy to the province’s electricity grid, Energy Minister Michelle Mungall says.

B.C. Hydro has excess power now and is losing billions selling it on the North American energy market while locked into long-term contracts, but that’s not the end of the need, Mungall said in an interview with Black Press Monday.

The cancellation of B.C. Hydro’s “standing offer” program for run-of-river, wind, solar and biomass power projects leaves the door open for Indigenous energy developments to proceed.

“When we went forward with Site C we committed to working with Indigenous nations on future power procurement,” Mungall said. “A lot of Indigenous nations have seen energy as a part of economic reconciliation, but also for remote communities to get off diesel and onto more renewable sources that they own as well.”

With the Site C dam on the Peace River not scheduled to come online until 2024, new renewable projects are to be considered in the second phase of the government’s B.C. Hydro review, Mungall said. That includes removing the B.C. Liberal government’s ban on the utility owning and operating its own small projects, or allowing local governments to get into the power production business.

READ MORE: B.C. Hydro bailout keeps rate rise to 8.1% over five years

READ MORE: B.C.’s private power shows up as big charge on hydro bills

Mungall’s home community of Nelson has its own power utility and hydro dam on the Kootenay River that supplies more than half of its own needs, buying the rest from FortisBC.

“Would it be better for local governments to develop an asset and then have an agreement with B.C. Hydro for transmission,” Mungall said. “There is a variety of ways we can deliver the power that future generations are going to need.”

Clean Energy B.C., the industry organization for private producers, objected to the government’s characterization of billions being lost in power contracts that run for as long as 40 years. A review by a former B.C. Treasury Board official also supported the long-time NDP claim that run-of-river power comes in the spring, when B.C. Hydro’s dams may be filled to overflowing with melting snow.

“Intermittence in electricity generation is an element of the equation, but B.C.’s large storage dams provide ideal backing for a system that still has far less intermittent power than Washington State, the U.K., Denmark, Germany and many other jurisdictions,” Clean Energy B.C. said it its response. “Not all run-of-river hydro plants are affected by the spring freshet snow melt.”


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

RDN adopts new bylaw to prevent backflow

Board wants to avoid legal liability

Former Parksville Generals player lands head coaching gig in Norway

New position is a dream come true for Henry Acres

Parksville resort fire caused by flammable gas used to extract oil from cannabis

Investigators detail reasons for explosion and blaze that destroyed building

Suspect arrested following gunpoint robbery in Qualicum Beach

Stop and Shop Grocery was robbed June 5; man now in custody

UPDATED: Wildfire burning near Taylor Flats in the Alberni Valley

Fire is located close to Highway 4 near Sproat Lake

PHOTOS: Elusive ‘ghost whale’ surfaces near Campbell River

Ecotourism operator captures images of the rare white orca

Suicide confirmed in case of B.C. father who’d been missing for months

2018 disappearance sparked massive search for Ben Kilmer

Victoria mom describes finding son ‘gone’ on first day of coroners inquest into overdose death

Resulting recommendations could change handling of youth records amidst the overdose crisis

B.C. church’s Pride flag defaced for second time in 12 days

Delta’s Ladner United Church says it will continue to fly the flag for Pride month

Otters devour 150 trout at Kootenay hatchery

The hatchery has lost close to 150 fish in the past several months

Dash-cam video in trial of accused cop killer shows man with a gun

Footage is shown at trial of Oscar Arfmann, charged with killing Const. John Davidson of Abbotsford

Eight U.S. senators write to John Horgan over B.C. mining pollution

The dispute stems from Teck Resources’ coal mines in B.C.’s Elk Valley

Threats charge against Surrey’s Jaspal Atwal stayed

Atwal, 64, was at centre of controversy in 2018 over his attendance at prime minister’s reception in India

Anti-vaxxer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to speak in Surrey

He’s keynote speaker at Surrey Environment and Business Awards luncheon by Surrey Board of Trade Sept. 17

Most Read