Monday, February 16, 2009

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

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