Saturday, February 28, 2009

East Toba/Montrose projects get Fed Eco Funding

A press release came out this week announcing the federal government is providing support money to Plutonic Power for their Toba Inlet projects that are under construction.

In BC there are total of 48 projects registered, of which 38 are hydro, 6 are wind, three and biomass and one is goethermal. There are numerous run of the river projects in BC that have signed agreements with Federal Government under this program, though I am not sure that all of them will be built within the timeframes suggested.

The Naikun Wind and Meager Geothermal projects both have signed agreements but I would very surprised to see either one functioning anytime soon.

Of the 58 largest projects listed by MW, only 2 of them are run of the river hydro and both of them are connected to Plutonic Power. Almost all of the rest are wind power projects which have a much lower amount of power they will actually produce in a given year.

Plutonic Power Corporation Signs ecoENERGY Agreement for Funding of the East Toba River Montrose Creek Run-of-River Project

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Feb. 23, 2009) - Plutonic Power Corporation is
pleased to announce that the Toba Montrose General Partnership has signed a Contribution Agreement with the Government of Canada for funding of the East Toba River and Montrose Creek Hydroelectric Project under the ecoENERGY for Renewable Power program.

Under the ecoENERGY for Renewable Power program, the East Toba River and Montrose Creek Hydroelectric Project will receive a $10 per MWh incentive over the first ten years of operations, in accordance with the terms of the agreement. Net annual electrical generation from the Project is expected to be 726.95 Gwh per year. Payments will commence once the Project is commissioned, which is on schedule for completion in mid 2010.

"The development of clean, renewable energy projects is instrumental in achieving both Federal
and Provincial governments' initiatives on climate change and Federal support through programs like ecoENERGY are important to the industry's success," said Plutonic Power Vice-Chair and CEO Donald McInnes.

Once completed, the East Toba River and Montrose Creek Hydroelectric Project, a partnership with GE Energy Financial Services, will potentially displace an estimated 455,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases (GHG) annually. This is the equivalent of taking about 80,000 cars off the road per year or planting about 60,000 hectares of trees. With an estimated capital cost of $660 million, this 196 MW project has been under construction since July 2007 and is on budget and on schedule for commercial operation by mid 2010.

About Plutonic Power Corporation
Plutonic Power's vision is to provide leadership and create a legacy through the development of renewable, reliable, clean energy. Its proposed Green Power Corridor(tm), comprised of 39 facilities, including the flagship $660 million, 196 MW East Toba River/Montrose Creek run-of-river project currently under construction, have the design capacity to generate enough energy to meet the annual needs of about 630,000 homes and create approximately 5,500 person years of employment. Once built, the Green Power Corridor(tm) could offset an estimated 4 million tons of CO2 emissions every year - the equivalent to taking as many as 650,000 vehicles off the road. Plutonic is committed to working in partnership with First Nations, stakeholder groups and local communities in the development of all its run-of-river projects. By developing its suite of projects, Plutonic Power will help British Columbia realize its goal of becoming electricity self-sufficient by 2016, meet demand utilizing 90% clean domestic generation sources and will play a significant role in the fight against climate change.

For additional information please contact:

Elisha McCallum
Office: 604-669-4999

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Western Renewable Energy Zones

I found out about this from an article in the Tyee.

The Western Govenors Association in the US has developed the Western Renewable Energy Zones to quantify the potential for renewable energy in 11 US states, BC, Alberta and Baja Norte. They are seeking input into their project at the moment.

In their plans they clearly see BC as the source for a significant portion of the renewable energy in western North America. In total they see 11.4% of the power coming from BC, closer to one fifth of the total when solar is factored out. This table shows that they potential they assign to BC a majority of the hydro power in western North America, a total of 69% of all of the hydro power.

In the wind category they assign 14.6% of the total to BC. The document calls for 118 790 MW of power to come from wind in the west. This is a huge expansion of wind power, a scale I had not imagined at all.

They have nothing apportioned for BC based solar power, though I doubt this would ever be a major source of electrical power.

The geothermal potential in BC is also barely touched, there are some very significant possible geothermal sources in BC.

The renewable energy sources they map out does not include any bio-mass generated power. We already have a number of bio-mass operations functioning here in BC already.

Interesting Report from Greenland

As more and more data comes in, I am being pushed more and more into the category of someone that believes we need to take actions with respect to global warming. This report from Greenland is interesting.

There is now a suggestion that Greenland should be wrapped to keep it from melting.....

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Generating Power for the Public Water Supplies

The provincial government in BC should require all municipal water systems to have turbines built into them to produce electrical power. We have dozens of domestic water supplies in BC that are gravity fed and could easily turn a turbine. At the moment that energy is not captured.

Where this has been done by some of the mountain towns in the US, the sales of the power go a long way towards covering the costs of the water system.

We should reduce our use of power

Conservation is one of the big solutions proposed by people opposed to the emerging green power projects in BC and elsewhere. Fine, nice thing to say, but how are you going to do that? To reduce consumption you need to raise the price of power and by a lot. Raising power rates is political suicide. Over and over again people make it clear they are happy with cheap power. One of the threats the advocates for public power use is that private power will cost more.

BC Hydro has worked hard to reduce consumption in BC and as of the end of fiscal 2008 they achieved a savings of 2,844 GW/h per year. There is still a huge reduction needed to make any sort of realistic dent and this is in an era of when our population is still growing. The only way we will get people to make a lot more changes in their electricity use, to get them to conserve, is to raise the rates of power dramatically. To get major conservation of power in BC we would be looking at an immediate doubling of electricity rates and a goal of getting the rates to four to five times as high as now.

Even if here in BC could dramatically reduce our per capita use of electricity, there is still a lot of brown power out there in other locations. When we produce green power here, we reduce the need for coal fired power plants elsewhere.

Each kilowatt of green power from BC is one that does not need to come from some other source. Each run of the river hydro project has defacto zero CO2 emissions versus all the coal and gas plants in the rest of North America. If we do not build them here, it is going to that much harder for other regions to reduce their CO2.

We have a responsibility in this region to make use of the resources we have to provide for people everywhere. We do not live in isolation in our houses, cities, provinces or countries. In BC we are sitting on a large part of the renewable energy solution for all of North America, we owe it to everyone to develop as much run of the river hydro as is sustainable on our rivers as quickly as is possible.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

CD Howe Institute in Favour of Wind and Solar Power?!

This came into my email inbox today. I figure that this sort of endorsement will drive the members of the Orthodox Church of the Enviro Left around the bend and continue the process of attacking every green power source. I have been an active environmentalist for decades now and I am interested in solutions that are achievable and are not hair-shirts for the public. If the business sector adopts green power, that is a huge win.


Solar, Wind Power Among Most Cost-Effective Programs to Reduce Greenhouse Gases: C.D. Howe Institute

Toronto, Feb. 19 – A careful review of Canadian government renewable energy programs reveals some clear winners when it comes to the cost-effective use of taxpayers’ money, according to a study released today by the C.D. Howe Institute. In “Going Green for Less: Cost-Effective Alternative Energy Sources,” authors Roger A. Samson and Stephanie Bailey Stamler conclude that the lowest-cost government incentive programs are those for renewable heat and power technologies, such as wind power, and solar air and hot-water heating.

The authors review the efficacy of the entire portfolio of federal and provincial renewable energy incentive programs – with respect to major liquid biofuels, renewable power, and renewable heat options – to determine their cost effectiveness in reducing emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs).

The lowest-cost government incentive programs identified are for renewable heat and power technologies such as wind power, solar air and hot-water heating, and biomass pellet heating, as well as energy retrofitting strategies. For these programs, mitigation could be realized at $10-to-$60 of government subsidy per tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) offset. In contrast, they find the most expensive government incentives to be liquid biofuels, which range from $295-to-$430/tonne of CO2e for ethanol to $122-to-$175/tonne of CO2e for biodiesel.

The authors recommend a redirection of federal funds towards more cost-effective carbon mitigation approaches. They propose a “carbon bounty” that could be applied equitably across all renewable energy technologies and reward those that are most cost efficient.

The study is available at:

For more information, contact: Ben Dachis,

Policy Analyst,

C.D. Howe Institute,


Roger Samson,

Executive Director,



Wednesday, February 18, 2009

What is Green Power?

Here is a study from Stanford looking into all manner of different power sources for purposes of powering cars. The evaluating nine sources of electrical power and two liquid fuels as to their impacts on the environment. What is the best? Wind.

Run of the River in BC

This issue is being distorted so badly in BC at the moment. There is a movement of people that are seeking to stop run of the river for a host of reasons that have nothing to do with the environment, though they hide things in a patina of illogical environmental reasons.

The opposition to run of the river power projects is tarring anyone with environmental beliefs as being short sighted.

I realized there would be problems in BC with run of the river hydro projects when some years back the Squamish Lillooet Regional District created criteria that they would apply to decide if they would approve run of the river hydro. The criteria vis a vis environmental impacts were fine and did not present significant hurdles to development. I believe that because virtually all run of the river projects would be able to comfortably pass through the environmental reviews that they created a completely arbitray one. The SLRD could turn down a project based on the asthetics - if they decided they did not like the look of it, they could turn it down.

The SLRD wanted to be able to turn down projects that would benefit the environment because someone thought they might look ugly.

Bute Inlet and Plutonic Power
The frenzy around the Bute Inlet projects of Plutonic Power is stunning. There seems to be this sense that the project will destroy a pristine wilderness. That the region will be massively industrialized. All of this is rhetoric without basis in fact.

The area has been roaded and has been actively logged for many years. The road up the Homathko goes past where the power projects are. The Homathko has been heavily logged over the years. The area has an airstrip.

There is also an existing run of the river hydro system in the area, it is used to power the needs of the Homathko camp four tourists.

The Teaquahan has an existing road going as far as the location of the project, the same with the Southgate. The lower Southgate is also staked through mineral claims and has a potential for a copper mine.

The Orford river has a proposed resort development on it.

This is area is not a pristine wilderness. It has not been set aside as a protected area. The project may be rated for the same number power level as Site C, but the big difference is that the Bute Inlet projects have a tiny footprint on the ground in comparison.

So what are the possible impact of these power projects?
Negative impact on salmon spawning - if Plutonic can not design their stuff to have no impact on the fish, then I am not sure why they are in business. There are standards they need to achieve. This assumes that one could even measure their impact when compared to the impact of exsiting uses such as forestry. There is a fish hatchery in the area operated by First Nations.

Habitat fragmentation - this has already occured through forestry.

Impact on grizzly bears - the bears seem to manage to deal with forestry activities and with the tourists coming into the area.

Increased human presence in the area - I seriously doubt that the number of people will be enough for anyone to measure a change over time.

The project is going through the BC Environmental Assessment process. This process will consider even the most minor potential impacts of the project and will require many modifications to the plans and a detailed environmental monitoring plan. I am 100% certain that the EA process will require Plutonic to gather more information on the wildlife in the Bute inlet area than has ever been done before. I am also certain that Plutonic will be required to monitor wildlife in Bute inlet long term and enact mitigation strategies if there is an impact.

If your issue with Plutonic Power's Bute Inlet project is wildlife, then the EA process will end up addressing all your issues.

Why Oppose Run of the River?
It seems to be that the primary opposition to run of the river in BC is not for environmental reasons, but because it is being done by the private sector. Certainly that seems to be the main thrust behind Citizens for Public Power and IPP Watch.

In this Georgia Straight article, Gwen Barlee of the Western Canada Wilderness Committee calls for a moratorium.
The Wilderness Committee is calling for an immediate moratorium on the development of private power projects. In an era of climate change and diminishing oil reserves, it makes no sense for us to lose control of public production of hydroelectricity. Our publicly owned power system already has one of the lowest carbon footprints in the world, and as we move forward to address climate change we can do so in a way that is democratic, properly planned, protects the environment, and benefits our province.
Her argument makes no logical sense. Note, she is not saying there should be no run of the river, there should simply be no private power projects.

BC has had private power generation and delivery in place since we first switched on a light. BC Hydro has purchased power from private producers for decades.

Private developers of projects benefit us in numerous ways, the first one that comes to mind is that it is the developer that has to borrow the money to build the project and not the public. The private developer has a very high interest in being efficient, the staff are rewarded for doing things better than before. The private developer will pay property taxes and corporate income taxes, neither of which would be paid by a public development.

The fact that a private company is developing the project has no relevance to the environmental issues being considered.

What is important to see is that business is willing to spend a lot of money on green projects. There are businesses out there you can invest in that are committed to dealing with climate change. People invest a lot of money each year, the general public owns most of the publically traded companies in Canada through their RRSPs and pension funds. A company like Plutonic Power offers a place for those investment dollars to go to other than something like GM or Ford. Though most people do not pay attention to what they are investing in.

Think about it, private businesses want to spend tens of billions of dollars on projects that will reduce CO2. There is no government that could even concieve of the solution the private sector is offering us at no cost.

If Climate Change Matters to You
If this is an issue that you care about, opposing run of the river projects in BC is not going to move things forward. BC is uniquely set up to provide huge amounts of run of the river green power to North America. We have numerous steep small rivers along the coast of BC, the perfect set up for run of the river power production, the bigger the drop the more power you can produce. Few other areas in North America have the ideal streams for this power.

Each KWh that can be produced will make it easier for fossil fuel power plants to produce less power.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Story on CFLs

This was in the Vancouver Sun.

I started moving over to compact fluorescents about 10 years ago. In my office in the house I put back in incandescent light bulbs because I could feel the difference in my office this winter. It was easier putting them back in my office than getting a space heater in there.

I would love to eventually move to LED lights and I know this will mean I need to more heating, but I heat with electric, so it is a zero sum game. Long term we want to move to a geothermal heating and cooling system in the house, but the costs to get it installed are a lot more than we can consider at the moment.

Wind Power is not Green?

The situation with green power production is getting very Orwellian in my opinion. There are arguments out there that wind power is the least green power source of power possible - well "industrial scale" wind is the worst. The use of industrial scale is a nice touch.

So the argument I am getting from people opposed to wind power is that it is not green at all because wind power needs to be backed up by other sources of electrical power to deal with the times when the wind is not blowing or there is a change in the wind. They are arguing that wind power does not in the end reduce CO2 emissions at all because of this.

What they are saying is that to be certain of the power supply, there needs to be a back up to the wind turbines. In Ontario this would be a coal fired power plant running at 60% to make sure that a drop in production from the turbines can be replaced if needed. So this would mean no reduction in CO2 emissions according to them. The final step in their argument seems to be missing a step of logic - I can not work out how they apply CO2 emissions to a KWh or wind produced power.

Let us say you need to run some other plant at 60% to back up the turbines, that still means 40% less CO2 emissions. The power from the coal fired plants would still be used to provide power to the grid. Even a 40% reduction in coal fired power 50% of the time would make a huge difference to the CO2 emissions in North America, something in the order of 400 000 000 tonnes of CO2 per year. But this supposes there is no option but to have this full back of wind as needs to be done at the moment.

On a small scale I can see full scale back up as being needed over a small geographic area such as Denmark. If the wind stops blowing in one place in Denmark, it stops everywhere. Denmark is smaller than Nova Scotia, it is smaller than some parks in BC. It is also very flat so either they have wind or they do not. This problem disappears if one looks at the bigger scale, with enough geographic variation the winds will be varied over the whole region.

On a bigger scale there would be wind turbines over a wide a range, wide enough that there is realistically going to be wind at some of the locations. I see it like a distributed network. In Canada the back up for wind eventually could be hydro, they are well matched for this. Large scale hydro is very easy to turn on and off as needed and as wind takes on a share of the baseload, hydro can be turned down and up as needed.

The Danes suffer from the fact that they are a very small country with the same weather everywhere - there is no real variation to allow for some areas to have wind and others not. Europe needs to be a single integrated grid so that when the wind blows in Denmark they can produce all the power they can and when it is not blowing they can get power for some location in Europe where it is blowing.

As you bring more and more wind online and have a consistent underlying base load from the turbines, you can start shutting down the coal plants. You need to think on a large enough scale on the continent to see that it does work.

In North America with have several north-south integrated grids, all of them are large enough that wind be a good addition to the mix and provide, over the whole grid, a consistent source of electricity. Each KWh of wind still remains a KWh of power that does not need to be produced from coal.

At the end of the day, each KWh of wind is still one that is produced without CO2 emissions.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Some more on Wind Power

Looking at the website of Wind Concerns Ontario, there is large amounts of information arguing against the use of wind power. One post has a number of quotes from Danes about wind in Denmark.

Something has to happen to change how electrical power is generated, but every alternative is shot down by someone. The wind folk suggest conservation as the best source - that is utterly unrealistic to replace the power produced by coal fired power plants in North America. Their second suggestion is to go to hydro, but given the fight against hydro here in BC, I do not think there is agreement on that point.

The simple reality is that the longer people argue over this, the longer the coal fired power plants operate. Each KWh of new green power is one less that has to be produced by coal fired plants, this should be a simple concept to understand. Every roadblock and delay against green power is simply an extension on the life of coal based power.

If I believed in conspiracy theories, I would think the NDP and the anti run of the river power people were all in pay off the big coal companies. I know this is not true, but it makes a lot more rational sense to me than what the reality seems to be.

Will the Carbon Tax Survive?

Few other governments in North America are as serious about climate change as the BC Liberal government here in Victoria. BC introduced the first real carbon tax in North America last year, but the opposition to the tax is rising all the time.

Currently the BC tax places a $10 a tonne charge on carbon, this will rise to $30 by 2010. Not dramatically high, but certainly a lot more than what is being charged elsewhere. The tax was also a huge political risk, any sort of taxation that makes it more expensive for people to drive their cars is risking serious political damage.

So how does the the NDP respond, with outright opposition to the idea. The NDP approach to climate change issues is to avoid taking action and avoid supporting ideas that will have real impacts to behaviours now. The NDP is trying to get all the browns to back them.

Meanwhile a large segment of the environmental community will not come out and back the government that is the leader on the issue but instead say it is too little, that the government does not really mean it, that other actions of the government negate and climate change actions and more.

For people that believe climate change is an important issue, there really is only one choice - a strong endorsement of Gordon Campbell and the current government. If the Liberals do not go up in the vote and number of seats in this election, and the NDP continues to campaign against climate change, the odds are that the government will see this as a public rejection of action on climate change.

The NDP winning in BC in May means that no politician in Canada will take any substantive action on climate change for the next decade. The defeat of Campbell after Dion lost federally will mean that action on climate change will be toxic as a policy.

It is now time for the environmental movement in BC to come out and say they are voting for Gordon Campbell and the Liberals because they support real action on climate change. If this does not happen, it says to me that the environmental movement is more ideological than interested in positive changes. It also means that the centre and centre right know that there is simply nothing they could ever say or do that will stop criticism from the environmental movement. If that happens, the environmental movement will lose any power to get government to listen.

Energy Minister Lekstrom weighs in on IPPs

From the web:

Cariboo Press
09 Feb 2009
Revelstoke Times Review - Opinion

Your readers should know that anti-IPP lobby groups like Citizens for Public Power have been spreading false accusations about independent power projects for some time now. ("Hydro power plan warms up" Feb. 2, 2009). For many months, I have watched at the coordinated effort by unions -- backed by the NDP and related organizations -- oppose an industry that's bringing jobs to our rural communities. These critics have waged a war against independent power production with dishonest information.

Let's clear the air and provide facts on the topic of energy needs for B.C.

Because of poor planning by the NDP during their 10 years in office, B.C. has been dependent on imported power for seven of the last 10 years. British Columbians have been dependent on other jurisdictions to keep our lights on. Our government does not believe that's the right thing to do, nor should they. That's why our government is committed to making B.C. electricity self sufficient - the same vision that W.A.C. Bennett had that gave us the legacy we have today.

Despite all the claims of a proliferation of projects, in actual fact there are only 46 such projects in operation, and readers should know that almost half of those were started under the watch of the previous NDP government.

Another fact overlooked by these "critics" is that these power projects pay back to British Columbians millions of dollars over the life of their contracts, for the use of water resources. It's no different than any other resource industry and the revenues the Province gets back for the use of B.C.'s natural resources.

Critics are incorrect when they suggest BC Hydro and other Crowns are prohibited from developing new power projects. They conveniently ignore the fact that in September 2007, Columbia Power Corp. -- a Crown Corporation owned by the citizens of B.C. -- unveiled the completion of the Brilliant Dam Expansion. The expansion provides clean, renewable energy - enough to supply 50, 000 homes.

As well, how do they explain the extensive consultations BC Hydro is currently undertaking into the feasibility of building a hydro-electric project in the Peace region known as the Site C dam? Or the billions of dollars in BC Hydro's capital plan to expand and upgrade existing infrastructure?

We are creating a B.C. industry for clean, green power - that includes run- of-river, biomass, waste gas capture and wind - which will not only help us meet our needs in this province, but could ultimately help other jurisdictions reduce greenhouse gas emissions and their reliance on dirtier forms of electricity generation.

This industry brings jobs, investment and ongoing revenue to British Columbia. It has the added benefit of creating a service sector that provides jobs in rural communities. At a time of such economic upheaval, it's the height of irresponsibility for politically motivated critics to try and shut an industry down, based on a campaign of misinformation.

As the Minister responsible for BC Hydro - and as a proud British Columbian - I can assure citizens of our great province that BC Hydro is a Crown jewel. With the release of the Energy Plan in 2007, this government put the continued ownership of its assets legally into the hands of British Columbians.

Blair Lekstrom
Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources

Friday, February 13, 2009

Price of power

We really do not pay much for power in Canada, especially not in BC. The average price in the US in 2008 was 11.35 cents per KWh - about 14 cents in Canadian terms. This is for residential power.

There is a huge variation across the US - at the top end in Hawaii it is 35.74 cents US per KWh. That is close to 45 cents in Canadian, or more than six times as much as we pay in BC.

In Canadian dollar terms, the cheapest power in the US is about 9.2 cents per KWh. In California they pay more than twice what we pay for out power.

In 2008 48.3% of the power in the US was coal fired. Renewable energy provided less than 10%, a smaller share than it did in 1994.

You can find lots of data on this at the following website

I raise this to show how much more we could charge for power. Conservation will not work well here until we charge realistic rates for electrical power.

I also raise some this information to remind people that in the US 2000 TWh of coal fired power is being produced and according to climatologists we have to phase all of this out. People have to understand the scale of what needs to be done to achieve this phase out.

We need to build about 700 projects of the scope and scale of the Plutonic Power Bute Inlet project as soon as possible. This assumes that there is no need for more power, which is a bad assumption to make. Realistically we need to build 1200 projects like this over the next 20 years. If not that, there is a huge market for many more nuclear power plants and vast wind farms. People in Ontario should expect that Lake Ontario will be ringed by windmills in 20 years.

Few places can offer as many options for this sort of power as BC can. BC should take on the task of building an average of 10 Bute Inlet scale projects per year for each of the next 20 years. Private businesses are willing to invest money to build the infrastructure at no cost or risk to the public. In return each watt of power they produce brings coal fired phase out closer.

Alaska and Yukon could also offer a lot of locations for run of the river hydro, but they need to be connected to the grid to do this. This means that not only does the highway #37 electrification be built, but it has to be built all they way through to Alaska and it has to a large scale line, ideally several 500Kv lines side by side, something significantly larger than the current powerline in BC from the WAC Bennet dam to the Lower Mainland.

Building a big electrical pipeline from Alaska to the lower 48 states is going to become crucial to provide the power needed to make the transition. The geography of the region is simply too good for run of the river not to be a part of the solution.

Ontario is pushing wind power

Given what is going on in BC with opposition to new green power projects, which surprises me given that there are people moving forward with plans for coal fired power, it is interesting to see how interventionist Ontario is getting.

This is an article with this quote:
Premier Dalton McGuinty is signalling he won't hesitate to foist "green" energy projects on communities across Ontario

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Will Climate Change Campaigning Simply Mean a Big Boost for Nuclear Power?

Here in BC small scale run of the river hydro is being pilloried, elsewhere in North America wind is being attacked. Climatologists say we have to stop making electrical power from fossil fuels. So where does this leave us? Nuclear?

There are those arguing against it and those in favour.

Being from BC, I am like most people have no desire to touch nuclear power. This is one of the few things almost everyone agrees on. But in absence of new nukes and strong opposition to most green power sources, where will we get our power from?

The Suzuki foundation is strongly recommending wind. They also come out in favour of micro hydro but do so with fudging.

The Pembina Institute comes out in favour of micro hydro, wind, geothermal, and others.

The Sierra Club of Canada wants to see an end to fossil fuel use and nuclear power, but has no suggestions on how to go about it.

The Dogwood Initiative says they are working on climate change but is very short of any details.

Unless people opposed to green power sources like run of the river or wind come up with realistic alternatives to move away from more coal and natural gas fired electricity production, we are not going to see the reductions in green house gas emissions that climatologists say we need. If things are hard enough for green power production companies, I can see a rise in nuclear power all over North America as a way to reduce CO2 emissions.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Benefits to First Nations Ignored - Tom Fletcher Column

This is from the Black chain of papers in BC. I am simply amazed at how this issue is being spun and how far people want to move it from review of what is happening.

Published: February 10, 2009 11:00 PM
Updated: February 10, 2009 11:34 PM

CAMPBELL RIVER – The prettiest sight on my visit to Toba Inlet wasn’t the spectacular view of the steep-sided fjord, or the waterfront dream homes and pleasure boats that dot the Discovery Islands clustered around it.

It was watching two workers, an aboriginal father and son, laughing and joking over a hearty lunch at Plutonic Power’s run-of-river construction camp. To use an overworked phrase, it looked like hope and change, from the sickening poverty and social decay of remote, jobless reserves.

The last time I spoke with North Island MLA Claire Trevena, she seemed genuinely moved by conditions on a reserve near Port Hardy. More than 20 people huddled in one house, as others became uninhabitable due to mould. Governments have a moral duty to build new houses, she said. Perhaps she’s not aware that this horror was caused by Indian Affairs uprooting people from their remote fjords and livelihoods in the 1960s, and moving them to new government houses.

Trevena was in Campbell River last week, joining her fellow well-heeled Quadra Islanders in trying to kill Plutonic’s $3.5-billion expansion proposal on neighbouring Bute Inlet. About 300 people packed a recreation centre on the edge of town, mostly to hear the loud, rehearsed voices of the B.C. Hydro union-backed campaign against private power development at an environment ministry open house.

Rafe Mair was flown in. His only contribution was a favourite coarse insult and a demand for a referendum on run-of-river hydro development. Gee Rafe, you mean like the referendum we had before building the Mica, Peace and Revelstoke dams? Have you compared their environmental impact to this run-of-river plan?

Vicky Husband struggled up from Victoria to talk down to the locals about the “giveaway of our rivers.” Apparently it’s inconsequential to this legendary forest campaigner that this project will generate nearly $40 million in property, school and water taxes.

It’s consequential to Powell River, where at this writing Catalyst Paper’s mill is still running. The company has pleaded with Plutonic CEO Donald McInnes to help keep its skilled workforce around, working on what comfortable islanders sneer at as “linear clearcuts” for power lines.

Catalyst has already served notice it won’t be borrowing millions to pay full local taxes on mills at Port Alberni, Crofton and Elk Falls, which are winding down until market conditions improve. It’s going to get worse before it gets better.

The Plutonic expansion would create the biggest run-of-river project in Canadian history, generating about the same power as the proposed Site C dam on the Peace. The hypocrisy of opponents was summed up by one NIMBY, who said Site C should be built instead. That’s an actual dam, not a diversion project that preserves and even enhances fish habitat, rehabilitating roads and culverts abandoned after decades of cut-and-run coastal logging.

After a long series of factually challenged outbursts about “old growth” and the visual pollution of usable roads, Homalco elder Daisy Hill was helped to her feet and made her way to a microphone with the help of a cane.

“You people probably have had jobs all your lives, have your own homes, have everything that you need,” she said. “We don’t have anything. Our people, the majority (are) on welfare, it’s sad to see that.”

A group of young people against the wall were dressed like they just stepped out of a Gap ad. One of them heckled. The brief warning he got from the aboriginal employment liaison won’t be printed here, but Gap boy kept quiet after that.

The Klahoose First Nation is being transformed by this project. Others will be too.

Factually Challenged

The factual inaccuracy displayed by Mair and Husband was typified by the moronic slogan sported on many lapel stickers: No Dam Way.

If you’re going to participate in this debate, a few things need to be established. First, they’re not dams. That’s important.

In his regrettable column on, Mair gets Plutonic Power’s name wrong and then falsely asserts that it is controlled by General Electric. In fact GE’s financial arm has a 49 per cent stake.

Then Mair reveals his core message. He’s still fighting Alcan.

Tom Fletcher is legislative reporter and columnist for Black Press newspapers.

The staking of streams is out of control

There is a sense in much of the stuff out there that there are only a finite number of streams out there and they are in immediate danger of all being taken, I can not see how people come up with this.

In BC there are something in the order of 250 000 to 300 000 separate water courses, much depends on how you measure it. Most of these water courses have no established rights on them for anything. In large part this is because they are not close to anyone that would use them.

The most common reason water rights are owned in BC is for irrigation. It is not uncommon in the southern interior for there to be more water rights granted on a creek than there is water in the creek. What this means is that only those rights that can be exercised without out emptying the creek can be used.

Water rights were one of the first private property rights created in BC. In English common law you had a right to take water from a stream that went through your property. These are riparian water rights. BC created a different regime, a system of privately owned water rights not connected to any land, this is called Prior appropriation water rights.

For years there was a government policy not to allow any Crown Lands to be made into fee simple titles. This restricted private lands in BC. What was not restricted was the application for private water rights. In many areas of BC there are no remaining water rights for anyone to apply for.

The point of all this is to show that there are many other demands on water rights in BC and many have been granted, many times more than all the IPP applications.

The total number of locations in BC that have had rights requested for power development are only about 600 to 700. This is really a very small amount. The rights granted specifically grant conservation uses of the water priority over any other use - fish trump everything.

So you have the rights to the water - that is still a long way from making any power. The number of hurdles along the way are still significant. Unless you stay under 50MW, you end up in the environmental assessment process. You also need local government approval. You need to find financing. You need to be able to tie your project into the grid. There are many points along the way at which the project will fail to proceed.

How many IPP run of the river power projects will we see in BC over the next 20 years? Realistically about 100 to 150 producing about 18 000 to 25 000 GW/h of power per year. Most of the ideas for run of the river projects will simply remain ideas and nothing more.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

IPPs in BC and the Environmental Assessment Process

The BC Environmental Assessment process is a rigorous and detailed. I have sat through several of these processes on behalf of clients with projects or clients opposed to projects. The process is not easy and requires inordinate amount of detailed information for the project proponent.

The process is not about saying yes or not about a project, but about assessing the potential impacts of a project on the environment and then requiring changes to the project to reduce the impacts of the project. A proponent that has problems with the conditions coming from the process will do one of two things, they will either let the process do dormant or they will withdraw the project from the process. There are 14 projects that have been in the process for more than four years and 14 that have been withdrawn.

Some people have posted their concerns about the Plutonic Power Bute Inlet Hydroelectric Project. I see that the project is in the assessment process and has a project terms of reference. The terms of reference seem to comfortably deal with all the concerns with respect to wildlife that I have heard people raise. There are numerous fully qualified provincial and federal scientists that will be working on the assessment. If there is a danger to grizzly bears, then I expect the assessment to require changes to the project to remove the danger.

If the changes required by civil servants are too much for Plutonic, I would expect them to abandon the project. You can read the sort of things were required of them in the East Toba River Montrose Creek project here.

The blind opposition to projects is something I do not understand. The BC environmental assessment process allows for data to be submitted by anyone to the process. If you have data on wildlife or impacts on other industries, then submit it. But in reading most of the public comments submitted to date, there is almost no substance to any of them. Most of them are one or two paragraphs and make not real points other than the person is oppsoed to the development. The environmental assessment process is not a popularity contest. It is a science based review of a project. Any project that gets through the assessment is of low environmental impact.

If people do not want to have green power produced in BC, they need to elect MLAs willing to make it illegal to produce new green power.

BC Wind Projects

Wind is getting a lot of backlash elsewhere in North America, W5 just did a thing on the 'horrors' of wind power in Ontario. There is a lobby group there against wind power called Wind Concerns Ontario. Meanwhile we have very little happening in BC with wind power, but I am sure that if something goes ahead, there will be no end of attacks against it.

Many of the best sites in BC have been selected by companies to consider wind development. Most projects are all the edge of the Rockies in the Peace Country.

Wind development in BC suffers from the fact that it costs a lot to develop and the rates paid in BC are not very high. Micro hydro is a much better investment.

Approved Wind Projects:
Earth First Power has a number of projects in BC, first are the ones that have been approved to be built:

They are looking at locations on the coast and the southern interior as well. The company is in creditor protection and it is not clear if any work is going ahead.

AltaGas Income Trust has the Bear Mountain Wind Park Project 16 km south west of Dawson Creek. Construction started in December of 2007 and is supposed to open in November of 2009.

The Holberg Wind Energy Project was approved in October 2004, but has since been canceled by the owner.

Seabreeze Power Corp
has the Knob Hill Wind Farm Project on the north end of Vancouver Island. I suspect there has been very little work on this project because the costs outweigh the benefits. The company has been focusing on transmission line projects between Vancouver Island and the mainland. Seabrezze is looking at several locations around BC, though nothing within the assessment process.

That is it for approved wind projects in BC.

Wind Projects Under Serious Consideration:
Finavera Renewables has a number of projects in the BC. The following are in environmental assessment:
Finavera is being built up to be a major renewable energy company over the next decade.

Premier Renewable Energy has within the environmental assessment process the Nicomen Wind Energy Project 12 km south east of Lytton. They also have Marten Ridge Wind Energy near Fernie.

Fred Olsen Renewables have two projects in the environmental assessment process. This is a large Norwegian company with operating wind farms in Europe. They also operate ferries, cruiseships and the worldest largest ship, the Knock Nevis, which is now only used to store oil and not ship anything anywhere. Their pockets are deep enough to build any approved projects

Nomis Power Corp has the Nahwittee Wind Farm Project in the assessment process. The project is 50 km north west of Port Hardy. The project has been in the EA process for over four years now.

Naikun Wind Development
has the NaiKun Offshore Wind Energy Project in the assessment process. The project is off of Haida Qwaii. The project has been in the EA process for over five years now. The project is huge, but I can not see it happening anytime soon. The capital costs are simply astronomical.

Epcor has the Quality Wind Project in the assessment process. The project is near Tumble Ridge.

Aeolis Wind Power Corporation has one project in the assessment project, Thunder Mountain Wind Park 33 km south east of Tumbler Ridge.

Katabatic Power/North Coast Wind Energy Corp has the Banks Island North Wind Energy Project in the assessment process. This is 90 km south of Prince Rupert. Katabatic also has the Mount Hays Wind Farm, but it has been stalled. This project is small enough to not need to go through the assessment process. They are planning on building this project in the next year.

Monday, February 9, 2009

The construction of IPP projects are environmentally damaging

The scope and scale of the construction is so small compared to the environment around them that the impact of the construction is in most cases unmeasurable.

It only becomes an issue if there is a need to construct a long access road through a previously unroaded area. Each year in BC we construct a lot of resource roads and these ones are only a tiny amount of them. One of the most important thing to do with re

Let us look at the projects belonging to Plutonic Power. Yes, they have a lot of projects slated for are area on the coast north of Powell River, but the impact is not dramatic.

In Bute Inlet they are talking about 17 projects with about 440 km of powerlines and use of around 1050 hectares of land. This in an area that is 350 000 hectares in size. This to make it possible to build 1027 MW of generating capacity and produce just under 3000 GW/h per year.

3000 GW/h will supply about 5% of the electrical needs of BC. It will further reduce the need to import coal produced electrical power from Alberta.

So is ten square kilometres of land being used for the projects a lot? Not really. It is about the same size as Oak Bay. It is much smaller than a lot of the reservoirs that have been created to produce power in BC. The region they are in is 3500 sq km in size, 50% larger than the Capital Regional District, 2/3s the size of PEI.

The construction that will be done for these 17 projects will be done to much higher standards than has been expected of industrial development in the past. The monitoring will be extensive and detailed. There will be no scope for a bad job.

IPP construction is handled very differently than logging.

The required roads and the powerlines could lead to some habitat fragmentation, but generally nothing dramatic.

Since the construction of the actual intakes and powerplants will take place in locations that have been considered for impact on fish, the potential for harm to fish populations is very, very low.

These projects are small, small enough that they will not cause any measurable impact during their construction.

If this power were to be produced by fossil fuels, the CO2 impact would be about 2 000 000 tonnes per year. That is the CO2 emissions from 130 000 British Columbians.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Standing room only for Plutonic meeting

Dan MacLennan
Wednesday, February 04, 2009

It was standing room only to hear first-hand about Plutonic Power's plans
for Bute Inlet Monday
CREDIT: Photo: Dan MacLennan
It was standing room only to hear first-hand about Plutonic Power's
plans for Bute Inlet Monday night.

A standing-room-only crowd of more than 400 people packed the Quinsam Centre
hall Monday night; their numbers clearly demonstrating local interest and
concern for Plutonic Power's massive Bute Inlet Hydro Electric Project;
their comments reflecting another debate between jobs and the environment.

Vancouver-based Plutonic and its partner General Electric want to generate
1,027 megawatts - enough to power 300,000 homes they claim - by building 17
run-of-river generating plants on tributaries to the Homathco, Southgate and
Orford Rivers.

The proposal is massive not only in scope but also in cost. Plutonic CEO
Donald McInnes said it will cover 1,540 hectares (3,711 acres), requiring
440 kilometres (275 miles) of transmission line right-of-way as well as
access roads. He estimated the total cost of the project in the $3.5 billion

After responding last November to BC Hydro's request for power proposals,
Plutonic is now in the early stages of federal and provincial environmental
assessment processes. Monday's meeting was the third after meetings last
month in Powell River and Sechelt intended to help the Environmental
Assessment Office set terms of reference for the assessment.

A majority of speakers voiced serious concerns about the proposal if not
outright opposition to the concept. Strathcona Regional District Area C
Director Jim Abram called for more meetings and voiced "deep concerns"
about the proposal and the process. He said consultation with local
government to date was "pathetic" and he called for more public meetings.

"How can you propose a 450-kilometre-long linear clear cut in an area that
depends on the scenic corridor for the livelihood of its residents and the
very existence of the creatures that live there," he said. "This is

The meeting also drew some of the now familiar opponents from the provincial
stage. Rafe Mair from the Save Our Rivers Society said the process was
backwards because the people had yet to vote on an energy policy. Perennial
eco-warrior Vicky Husband, senior advisor to the Watershed Watch Salmon
Society, said public meetings should have been offered in Victoria and
Vancouver because this is a matter of provincial concern.

But most of the speakers were local.

"I'm not in favor of these projects," said Mike Gage, chair of the Campbell
River Salmon Foundation. "You talk about rehabilitating logging roads. Your
plans are to bring standards from 150-tonne capacity to 300-tonne. That's
not rehabilitating, that's a major rebuild. Your standards are going to
leave huge impacts on those valleys."

Others wanted to know how much water would be diverted for generation
purposes and how far it would be diverted.

There were numerous concerns about visual impacts. McInnes said the water
license would not permit export of water.

North Island MLA Claire Trevena called for a moratorium on independent power
production (IPP) until there's an overview of its provincial impacts.

Fresh off the federal campaign trail, Quadra's Green Party candidate Philip
Stone climbed on for the coming provincial vote, telling McInnes the project
was anything but green.

But amid all the opposition ran a current of support from no small number in
the audience, including First Nations members.

Daisy Hill, 72, of the Homalco First Nation, lectured the audience, saying
the land involved had belonged to her people for generations.

"For a change, we thought that we were going to be able to get something for
our land from this Plutonic Power because there were supposed to be jobs and
other things happening for us," she said. "Our people are really in poverty
and this was an opportunity for them to finally get out of being so poor and
have jobs and training. We were very happy to hear something positive was
going to happen for us.

"Then I come here and I hear all of these negative things from everybody.
You people probably have had jobs all your lives, have your own homes, have
everything that you need. We don't have anything.
People, the majority are on welfare. It's sad to say that.

"Maybe there are some things that need to be explored so that they don't
hurt the water and they don't hurt the animals. We want to make sure that
doesn't happen because we value those things."

Mavis Kok said Plutonic's Toba Inlet project currently under construction
has been good for the Klahoose First Nation.

"This has been a positive endeavor for us," she said. "We have over two
dozen people attending college and university. That is the upside of it.
There's always going to be pros and cons. There's always going to be
somebody that disagrees, but from this standpoint I say thank you to
Plutonic Power."

Lannie Keller said the public can't be the watchdog for the process because
there's a flood of proposals.

She called for the province to call a moratorium. She said the Homalco have
worked hard to protect the environment.

"It's a shame on our society that they have to consider trading their rivers
and their environment for money so that their youth can go to school and so
they can have jobs," she said. "It's shameful. We don't need to sell our
rivers. We've used up our forests. Our salmon are gone.
Let's not sell out our rivers."

McInnes acknowledged fish impacts were a big issue, particularly in the
valley bottoms.

"Our general guiding principle on site selection is the avoidance of fish
habitat," he said. "All of our powerhouse sites are above confirmed salmon
habitat. The intake structures are way above any productive salmon habitat.
Where possible, we're just looking for the environment where there isn't
productive fish habitat at all."

He urged people to check out the company website at for more

After the meeting, McInnes said he hadn't heard a lot of opposition to the
proposal from the community.

"The majority of the people who are here tonight that were being vocal,
they're never going to change their opinion," he said. "To a large extent,
their opposition to the project has nothing to do with the project. It's the
concept of public versus private ownership.
Ideologically, a lot of people think we shouldn't have the right to develop
and a lot of people think it's fine. But the people who think it's fine,
they're not at this meeting. They're at home after a hard day at work,
having dinner and seeing their kids."

He said many in the audience had "followed us to the other meetings so that
they can stand up in a public forum and try to get people riled up."

How riled up people will become has yet be demonstrated, but that date could
come later this year when Plutonic formally applies for an Environmental
Assessment Certificate, possibly by September. That will trigger a larger
public consultation process and more public meetings.

Recommendations to government from the environmental assessment processes
aren't expected until sometime next year.

© Courier-Islander (Campbell River) 2009

Data on BC Hydro power production

This is for each fiscal year:
  • Year....BC Hydro....Consumption....BC Hydro
  • ..........Production ........................Shortfall
  • 2008 52268 GW/h 57583 GW/h 5315 GW/h
  • 2007 45536 GW/h 56108 GW/h 10572 GW/h
  • 2006 47225 GW/h 55654 GW/h 8429 GW/h
  • 2005 42382 GW/h 54001 GW/h 11619 GW/h
  • 2004 44988 GW/h 53132 GW/h 8144 GW/h
  • 2003 48075 GW/h 51490 GW/h 3415 GW/h
  • 2002 43663 GW/h 50821 GW/h 7158 GW/h
  • 2001 49885 GW/h 51251 GW/h 1366 GW/h
  • 2000 51581 GW/h 49498 GW/h (2083) GW/h

So where are some of the BC Hydro production differences coming from? In fiscal 2008 there was more water available for production. Before 2003 the Burrard thermal plant produced up to 3974 GW/h per year, since then it has produced about 150 to 600 GW/h per year.

Since 2001, demand for power in BC has surpassed the ability for BC Hydro to produce the power. The last year in which BC Hydro produced enough hydro electrical power for BC needs was in 1998.

How has BC Hydro met the shortfall? In large part through long term private power contracts. In the late 1990s this was about 8000 GW/h per year. Now it is about 10 500 GW/h per year. The surplus has always been sold by BC Hydro.

In the late 1990s BC Hydro purchased about 2000 GW/h per year of IPP power. Now they buy about 7500 GW/h per year.

Oppistion to Green Power in BC

I am getting more and more depressed at the opposition in BC to green power. The small scale run of the river hydro projects are among the greenest sources of energy on the planet but yet there is this strong opposition to them being developed. I am going to try and address the issues raised by people opposed to the projects.

Anyone that is concerned about climate change and opposes these projects seems to me to be not functioning in a rational manner.

This column in the Province shows us that Tseporah Berman clearly gets the need for the projects.

I am going to address the following over a number of days:
  1. The construction of the projects is environmentally damaging
  2. This is wholesale privatization of water
  3. A huge number of creeks are being staked
  4. The projects will drain the creeks
  5. The projects infringe on Aboriginal Title and Rights
  6. The public is not being consulted
  7. This should not be done by the private sector
  8. BC Hydro is paying too much for the power
  9. BC Hydro produces enough power
  10. We do need more power, we achieve everything through conservation

Thursday, February 5, 2009

BC Citizens for Green Energy

BC Citizens for Green Energy is a group of people lobbying for more green energy production in BC, specifically they are strongly supporting run of the river hydro and wind power.

The group is clearly from the business side of the political spectrum and are also quite scrappy in taking on people opposing green power projects. This makes them quite different than the BC Sustainable Energy Association, who seem to be completely avoiding the debate about green power projects.

The campaign against green power projects in BC is getting weird. There is a wildly strong NIMBY thing going, there is also anti-business thing going on, and there is finally a strain wanting us to not use more power. Very little of the campaign against the green power projects makes much sense, but there really is no one taking on the wild and bizarre accusations against the projects.

If the goal is to reduce the amount of CO2 emitted by power production, there are few things better than the host of run of the river power projects suggested for BC. Without these, realistically there will need to be natural gas power plants in BC, site C and coal plants. At the moment we are dependent on power from Alberta and the US to make up the shortfall at home, this can not go on forever.

The campaign being mounted by groups like Western Canada Wilderness Committee needs to be examined for the implications of what they are saying. If WCWC, and related people, get their wish, the carbon footprint of people in BC will rise dramatically, each Kw/H of imported power adds about 500 grams of CO2. Right now we import close to 15% of the power we use, a CO2 impact of about 750kg per household, or about 1.8 megatonnes. If this rises to 25%, that will add another 500kg per household.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Joint Canada-US Approach on Climate Policy Needed: C.D. Howe Institute

Toronto, Feb.3, 2009 – A joint Canada-US approach to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is needed to minimize the negative impact on Canada’s competitiveness, says a study released today by the C.D. Howe Institute.

In Pricing Greenhouse Gas Emissions: The Impact on Canada’s Competitiveness, authors Chris Bataille, Benjamin Dachis and Nic Rivers note there is a growing consensus that if serious action is to be taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Canada, a price must be applied to emissions through a cap-and-trade system or a carbon tax. The authors look at a number of scenarios of how Canada’s climate policy might coexist with the rest of the world, how certain sectors are likely to be affected by carbon pricing and what governments can do about it.

Overall, they find that competitiveness impacts associated with climate change policy in Canada are likely to be relatively small for most sectors of the economy, with the exception of the following sectors: oil and gas extraction and processing, pulp and paper, metal smelting, chemicals, cement and lime production.

One concern, they note, is that measures Canada might take to reduce GHG emissions may be partly offset by the relocation of Canadian industries to countries that lack tough climate change policies – an effect known as emissions “leakage.” Such leakage, they find, would be relatively small: for every 5 megatonnes of CO2 that is reduced by Canadian industry, only 1 tonne would be leaked abroad. Any leakage would also be primarily to the United States, rather than to developing countries, meaning that a joint Canada-US approach would largely eliminate both the potential for leakage and overall competitiveness issues.

For the study go to:

For further information contact:

Benjamin Dachis,

Policy Analyst, C.D. Howe Institute,


Chris Bataille,

Director, M.K. Jaccard and Associates,


Nic Rivers,

Trudeau Scholar,

School of Resource and Environmental Management, Simon Fraser University,