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Green energy facts trump misinformation

April 15, 2010

Our BCCGE co-spokesperson David Field has a letter in today’s Penticton Herald.  The letter rebuts several inaccurate claims made by former Penticton NDP candidate Cameron Phillips about green energy projects in BC. 

Phillips had a letter in the Penticton Herald last week and it was a grab bag of the usual misinformation about green energy we’ve seen flowing from groups like the COPE 378 union representing BC Hydro workers, Rafe Mair’s SORS, WCWC  and BC Citizens for Public Power for the past several years.   Phillips was responding to David’s recent letter explaining what “firm energy” is all about and how it relates to BC Hydro’s Clean Power Call process. 

The whole question of  “firm energy” first came up when BCCGE received an email from an MLA questioning why we had used the term “firm energy” in our March 12th 2010 press release about the 19 Electricity Purchase Agreements awarded under BC Hydro’s Clean Power Call.  The MLA was under the seriously mistaken belief that run-of-river projects can only produce electricity during the spring runoff  (reading too much Rafe Mair perhaps?…).  We set the MLA straight on the issue and followed up with an email to all of BC’s MLAs on the subject of firm energy.

Anyway, here’s David’s letter from the Penticton Herald.

Disagrees with NDP candidate

Penticton Herald
Thu Apr 15 2010

Re: David Field uses bafflegab (Herald, April 12).

Former NDP candidate Cameron Phillips claims independent green energy projects are not subject to environmental regulations. Not true. Renewable energy projects typically require more than 50 approvals, permits, licenses and reviews from 14 government regulatory bodies before they can proceed. The regulatory bar is set very high for these projects and most never even make it past the early stages of the process.

Phillips also claims that projects “under 50 megawatts are virtually exempt from any legitimate form of environmental review.” Again, his claim is not true. Renewable energy projects under 50 megawatts are subject to the same regulations, permits, licenses and reviews that projects over 50 megawatts are.

The only difference for projects over 50 megawatts is that the province’s Environmental Assessment Office handles the review and approval process instead of the province’s Integrated Land Management Bureau. In each case the rules, regulations and main requirements are the same.

Phillips also claims that BC Hydro rates are going up because of green energy purchases. Again, his claim is not true. Renewable electricity from independent producers doesn’t even register among the reasons given by BC Hydro for their rate increase.

BC Hydro rates are going up because BC Hydro is spending billions of dollars to update and renovate their antiquated electricity generating facilities and mega dams most of which were built in the 50s, 60s, and 70s. A prime example is the $900 million to $1.3 billion BC Hydro just spent adding two new 500-megawatt turbines to the Mica Generating Station. And that’s just one BC Hydro updating project currently underway.

Lastly, the term “firm energy” may be “bafflegab” and “gobbledegook” to Mr. Phillips, but it’s the common term used by BC Hydro and everyone else in the energy world to describe electricity that can be supplied reliably and predictably on a seasonal or hourly basis. In fact, run-of-river projects are designed and built around the annual firm energy they can generate, not around the maximum peak energy they could potentially generate during the spring runoff.

Phillips is therefore incorrect in suggesting that run-of-river facilities can only generate electricity in the spring.

David Field, Co-spokesperson, B.C. Citizens for Green Energy

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