Summertime, and the livin’ is easy…?
Composer George Gershwin obviously wasn’t thinking about renewable energy in B.C. when he set the words, “Summertime, and the livin’ is easy,” to music. Summertime in B.C. has proven to be just as busy as any other time of year for green energy news.
Last summer, for example, the BC Utilities Commission won a booby prize for suggesting that B.C.’s growing electricity needs could be met by firing up the gas-fired, cold war era Burrard Thermal generating station near Port Moody.
That was a really bad call on the commission’s part and the public immediately rejected the idea as being fundamentally stupid; with the notable exception of COPE 378 and their “public power” wingmen.
But those folks would probably support burning the dirtiest carbon-emitting coal available to generate electricity as long as it was “publicly owned” and ignited by card-carrying COPE 378 union members.
Anyway, back to the summer at hand and some of the things that have been going on of late.
First up is BC Hydro’s report on the RFP Process for the recently concluded Clean Power Call. The report was issued last week and the guys in the BCCGE mail room are paging their way through it as we speak.
On first read the report appears to be very clearly written and mostly jargon-free, which means the information is fairly accessible to the average person interested in renewable clean energy development in this province.
We’ll have more to say about BC Hydro’s RFP report later, but in a nutshell the report outlines the process that led to the awarding of “25 Electricity Purchase Agreements (EPAs) with a volume of 3,266 Gigawatt hours (GWh) per year of firm energy pursuant to the Clean Power Call Request for Proposals (RFP).”
The report also provides “levelized plant gate prices and levelized adjusted Firm Energy Prices (FEPs) for the awarded EPAs, as well as the final bid prices in dollars per megawatt hour ($/MWh) for the awarded EPAs.”
Okay, okay, we said “mostly” jargon-free; we didn’t say completely jargon-free.
The important thing for the average person to be aware of here is that BC Hydro’s competitive Clean Power Call process allowed BC Hydro “to select some of the least-cost, best-value proposals from a large pool of submissions” which resulted in the “acquisition of cost-effective clean, renewable electricity for BC Hydro’s ratepayers.”
That leads us to another bit of renewable energy good news, namely, news that the $663-million Toba-Montrose project is now fully operational and contributing cleanly generated run-of-river electricity to the BC Hydro grid. That means less dependence on imported coal power to keep the lights on in B.C.
But the really, really big story this past week is, of course, the Pemberton landslide which tore away roads and bridges, plugged up rivers, and forced 1,500 people near Pemberton to flee their homes while putting another 2,500 others on evacuation alert.
Trying to comprehend the massive environmental devastation caused by 40 million cubic metres of rock, sand, trees and debris crashing down Mount Meager from the Capricorn Glacier is a mind boggling exercise indeed: The landslide roared 150 meters up the opposite side of the valley and blocked Meager Creek and the Lillooet River.
According to the authorities, the mud and debris from this landslide (which is now the second largest in Canadian history after the Hope Slide of 1965) will have major downstream impacts this coming winter when the rainy season hits and ongoing impacts for at least the next 3 to 5 years.
While making due note of the absolutely amazing fact that no one was killed or seriously injured by this natural disaster, the landslide provides an interesting point of comparison for weighing the frequent, but completely misinformed, claim that renewable energy projects cause environmental devastation, which, of course, they don’t.
Unlike Mother Nature, who probably didn’t bother to apply for any permits or an Environmental Assessment Certificate before unleashing last week’s landslide, renewable energy projects are subject to strict environmental regulations with more than 50 approvals, permits, licenses and reviews from 14 government regulatory bodies needed before a project can proceed.
The list of environmental regulations, standards and legislation that renewable energy projects must comply with includes the Province’s Water Act, Land Act, Fish Protection Act, Forest Act and Wildlife Act as well as the federal Species at Risk Act, Fisheries Act and Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.
Mother Nature certainly made a mockery of all this legislation last week. But that’s Mother Nature’s prerogative and it’s beyond the pale of what we humans can control or even attempt to control.
Fortunately we can control the impact that renewable energy projects might have on the environment and ensure that any impacts are minimal and fully mitigated. That’s the responsible approach we’ve collectively adopted in securing the clean energy we need here in B.C. and it works.
Mother Nature may not have to play by the rules but we do, and the care and scrutiny that goes into the development of renewable energy projects in this province is well worth the effort.
Stay tuned, because even though Summertime livin’ may be easy stuff is still going on all the time and we’ll do our best to keep you up-to-date.