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B.C. run-of-river impresses California group

March 30, 2010

Justine Hunter’s article about Site C in this morning’s Globe and Mail also had some interesting news about a delegation of California legislators and environmentalists who toured the Ashlu run-of-river facility near Squamish last week (part of a fact-finding visit to B.C.).

The California delegation was headed up by Patrick Mason, president of the California Foundation on the Environment and the Economy, and in an interview with Justine Hunter on Monday he said the group was impressed by B.C.’s regulations relating to run-of-the-river projects: “I’ll be telling the environmental groups on our board they really should take a look at them before they make up their minds.”

Mason said the group was also surprised to see the small footprint of the 49.9 megawatt Ashlu project and he acknowledged that California’s 30 megawatt limit for hydro projects to qualify as renewable energy sources is an arbitrary one driven mostly by the impact that hydroelectric dams have had in California in the past (an environment very different from B.C.).

Mason also acknowledged that California is going to have to rethink its definitions of clean power in order to meet its ambitious target of getting a third of its energy from renewable resources by 2020.  

Considering the wealth of renewable green energy resources B.C. has that we could export to places like California, the delegation’s visit and positive findings about run-of-river projects are good news indeed for B.C.

Here’s a link to Justine Hunter’s article in the Globe and Mail.  We’ve also provided a short excerpt below:

Decision pending on Site C hydro megaproject

Justine Hunter, Victoria

From Tuesday’s Globe and Mail Published on Tuesday, Mar. 30, 2010 3:00AM EDT

… Last week, legislators from California toured run-of-the-river projects in B.C. The province is hoping to persuade them to roll back restrictions that exclude most of the province’s new clean-energy projects from the state’s premium renewable energy prices .

An aggressive expansion of B.C. energy exports is expected to be a major part of the new Clean Energy Act that Mr. Lekstrom is slated to introduce this spring. He said getting past the California green restrictions is critical to those plans.

“We can’t sit back and expect to get into the California market without doing some work,” he said. “It’s urgent.”

Patrick Mason, president of the California Foundation on the Environment and the Economy, headed the delegation visiting B.C. last week.

In an interview Monday, he said the group was impressed with B.C.’s regulations on run-of-the-river projects. “I’ll be telling the environmental groups on our board they really should take a look at them before they make up their minds.”

Mr. Mason said the state will have to rethink its definitions of clean power in order to meet its ambitious target of getting a third of its energy from renewable resources by 2020. He said the cap of 30 MW per project is an arbitrary one, driven by a political backlash against the impact of hydroelectric dams within California.

“We have pretty much agreed we are not going to build more dams, but the point we are trying to make is these are very difficult targets,” he said. “We are trying to put everything on the table.”

Before meeting with Mr. Lekstrom, his coalition members toured the Ashlu Creek run-of-river hydroelectric plant near Squamish. The project has a capacity of almost 50 MW and Mr. Mason said the group was surprised to see the small footprint of the project….

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Avalon permalink
    March 31, 2010 11:55 am

    I don’t find it surprising at all that a delegation from California would not find British Columbia’s renewable energy initiative sufficient to meet the environmental requirements as laid out by that states legislators for importing electricity.

    The differences between ROR in BC and California are vast in comparison. To achieve the capacity of generation for a 30 Megawatt installation in California would require the construction of a dam to store the water, thereby having a negative impact on the environment.

    Whereas in BC the opposite is applicable due to our geographical differences in rivers. An even higher level of generation is possible by using a small portion of the natural river flow to power the hydro turbine.

    I also find it encouraging that they made mention of the relatively small footprint of the Ashlu Creek project, the poster child of the anti run-of-river coalitions in BC. Much has been mentioned in the newspapers by these very same groups that electricity generated in BC by renewable energy projects wouldn’t be acceptable south of the border. Perhaps the winds of change are finally blowing in BC and California.

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