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Media release
B.C. Citizens for Green Energy
January 13, 2010

Is red tape stifling
green energy progress in B.C.?

“It never ceases to amaze me how many hoops green energy
projects have to jump through
and how difficult it is for them to get approved.” — Bruce Sanderson, B.C. Citizens for Green Energy

Vancouver, B.C. — Bruce Sanderson of B.C. Citizens for Green Energy (BCCGE) says this week’s “Red Tape Awareness Week” sponsored by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is a timely reminder that—while a certain amount of regulation is important for efficiency and safety—an excessive amount of regulation and red tape can have serious negative consequences for B.C. and the B.C. economy.

Sanderson says he is concerned that the lengthy approval process and red tape that green energy projects are subjected to in this province, and the stack of permits and licenses required, may be putting B.C.’s green energy future in jeopardy.

“It never ceases to amaze me how many hoops green energy projects have to jump through and how difficult it is for them to get approved,” Sanderson said.  “It takes a long time to get one of these projects off the ground and the investment risk is considerable.”

Sanderson says green energy projects in B.C. typically require more than 50 approvals, permits and licenses from 14 government regulatory bodies before they can get underway.  And most projects never get past the preliminary study phase and are abandoned, often after millions of dollars have been spent on detailed environmental studies, project planning and site testing.

By the time a green energy project reaches the full-blown public hearing stage under the gaze of the province’s Environmental Assessment Office (EAO), a project has already undergone years of exhaustive study and professional review.  Only the most promising and environmentally benign projects ever reach the formal EAO stage of a public review—the final stage in a long, expensive and rigorous process.

Adding to the red tape surrounding green energy projects in B.C. is the announcement last week that BC Hydro’s Clean Power Call process has encountered yet another delay.  The awarding of BC Hydro energy purchase agreements to successful green energy projects may not be known for another three months in late March.  Sanderson says this news has greatly concerned BCCGE.

“This new twist must be very frustrating and worrying for B.C.’s green energy producers,” Sanderson said.  “Looking at this as a business person I know how concerned I would be, and I’m worried that B.C. is going to start losing out on green energy investment because it will just move to other provinces.”

Sanderson says a balance clearly needs to be struck so that red tape and bureaucratic overregulation don’t stifle entrepreneurialism and the innovation and productivity it brings to our economy.  If the costs, the time and the risks are too high, Sanderson says, investment capital has a well-known tendency to disappear quickly and go elsewhere.

Sanderson says he and BCCGE remain optimistic that B.C.’s enormous green energy potential will not slip through our fingers.  But he also notes that the uncertainty that has been in the air since last summer—when the B.C. Utilities Commission’s suggested BC Hydro rely on the gas-fired Burrard Thermal plant in Port Moody for B.C.’s future electricity needs—cannot be very helpful to the situation.

A 152 page guidebook produced by the province’s Integrated Land Management Bureau (ILMB) entitled, “Independent Power Production in B.C.: An Inter-agency Guidebook for Proponents,” provides an excellent guide to the approval and permitting process for green energy projects (click here to view and download the ILMB guidebook).

The Integrated Land Management Bureau (ILMB) is a division of the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands and is charged with overseeing and adjudicating the application process for green energy projects in B.C.

A short BCCGE list outlining some of the key provincial and federal legislation impacting on green energy projects, and the ministries and government agencies which oversee this legislation, is available on the B.C. Citizens for Green Energy website (click here).


For more information contact Bruce Sanderson
Co-spokesperson, B.C. Citizens for Green Energy
e-mail us at info@greenenergybc.ca

B.C. Citizens for Green Energy is an advocacy group representing a cross-section of British Columbians who encourage a legacy of clean, renewable electricity for future generations.