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.

BC legislature

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

From theatres to patios, Vancouver Island Symphony plays through the pandemic

A series of pop-up concerts are taking place in various locations from Saltair to Comox

Beloved Chemainus resident dies at 106

Dorothy Adair adored by the many people she met in the community in two short years

Sudden death leaves Shanahan family of five children without a father

GoFundMe campaign set up by wife Tiffany’s friend

Provincial COVID-19 data can now be used for B.C. to prepare for a second wave

In the past week, B.C. has seen a slight spike in daily test-positive case counts

‘Someone knows something’: a look into Vancouver Island missing persons with interactive map

There are more than three dozen people listed as missing throughout Vancouver Island

Recent surge in COVID-19 cases not unexpected amid Phase Three of reopening: B.C.’s top doc

Keep circles small, wear masks and be aware of symptoms, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

We’re asking you to lock arms with us, as we look to better days ahead

Children suffer swollen eyes, burns while playing at Lower Mainland spray park

Mission RCMP are investigating incident that injured several children

B.C. NDP changing WorkSafeBC regulations to respond to COVID-19

Employers say reclassifying coronavirus could be ‘ruinous’

Baby raccoon rescued from 10-foot deep drainage pipe on Vancouver Island

‘Its cries were loud, pitiful and heartbreaking,’ Saanich animal control officer says

Statistical flaws led to B.C. wolf cull which didn’t save endangered caribou as estimated

Study finds statistical flaws in an influential 2019 report supporting a wolf cull

Windows broken, racist graffiti left on Okanagan home

Family says nothing like this has happened since they moved to Summerland in 1980s

Man arrested for allegedly pushing unsuspecting seniors, jumping on cars at Parksville mall

Cops arrest man after ‘aggressive incident’ at Wembley Mall in Parksville

Most Read