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Media release
B.C. Citizens for Green Energy
June 16, 2008

Is BC Hydro turning away
from clean energy?

BC Hydro’s mixed messages about Burrard Thermal
and gas-fired generating plants threaten our environment

Recent statements from BC Hydro about natural-gas-fired electricity suggest a dangerous change in policy, according to B.C. Citizens for Green Energy. Last week the Crown utility asked the B.C. Utilities Commission for approval to greatly increase output from the Burrard Thermal natural-gas-fired plant. According to another news report, BC Hydro is considering three similar plants to be built in different parts of the province. “Generating electricity from natural gas will dramatically increase our greenhouse gas emissions,” said BCCGE co-spokesperson Gene Vickers. “And unnecessarily so — B.C. has almost unparalleled potential to create electricity from clean sources.”

In a plan submitted to the BCUC last week, BC Hydro asked for permission to run Burrard Thermal at 50 per cent capacity, an approximately seven-fold increase over its present operation. Burrard Thermal is currently limited to occasional use during peak periods. In addition, according to the June 12 edition of the Georgia Straight, BC Hydro is considering three similar plants to be built between 2016 and 2025.

BC Hydro’s position is ambiguous at best, said Vickers. “Today’s Globe and Mail quotes Cam Matheson, BC Hydro’s director of energy planning, describing Hydro’s new plan for Burrard Thermal as an ‘insurance policy.’ But a much better insurance policy would be to develop new sources of clean electricity.”

The June 12 Georgia Straight article states that three possible new plants were discussed in a BC Hydro workshop held on April 25. But the article quotes BC Hydro spokesperson Susan Danard contradicting BC Hydro’s own documents: “In no way is BC Hydro even contemplating any new gas-fired generation. That’s not us.”

“On both these points BC Hydro is giving us mixed messages,” said Vickers. “This is an extremely important aspect of our energy policy that has to be clarified. We need to know if BC Hydro is wavering in its resolve for clean electricity.”

The Burrard Thermal plant in Port Moody is a 1960s-era structure that uses natural-gas-fired steam to turn turbines and generate electricity. When running at full capacity it was one of Metro Vancouver’s worst sources of CO2, producing seven per cent of B.C.’s total greenhouse gases, along with other types of deadly air pollution. Half of its 900-megawatt capacity was mothballed several years ago, and the other half was used during peak periods only, usually during winter. But COPE 378, a BC Hydro union that’s prominent in the campaign against clean energy, has campaigned to have Burrard Thermal restored to full capacity.

According to the Georgia Straight, BC Hydro is contemplating two gas-fired plants of 494 MW and 243 MW near Clinton, and a 243 MW plant on Vancouver Island.

By comparison, the proposed Site C dam would have a capacity of 900 MW.

“Surprisingly few people realize just how much potential B.C. has for clean electricity,” said Vickers. “Wind, wave, tidal, run of river and geothermal can provide even more energy than we’d get from Site C, Burrard Thermal and the other three gas-fired plants altogether.”

“We really need BC Hydro to clarify its position on natural-gas-fired electricity,” Vickers added. “Because any talk of increasing Burrard Thermal’s output or building new gas-fired plants is dangerous and unnecessary in a province with so much green potential.”

For more information on Burrard Thermal, see:

Other media releases

Myths about green energy spread to North Shore February 28, 2009

Anti-run-of-river road show coming to Campbell River and Courtenay January 29, 2009

Anti-run-of-river rent-a-mob coming to Sechelt January 28, 2009

Anti-run-of-river road show pulls into Powell River January 27, 2009

Anti-IPP campaign challenged to divulge amount and sources of spending November 27, 2008

BC Hydro forecasts underestimate our electricity needs November 24, 2008

Anti-run-of-river road show rolls through the northwest October 16, 2008

Faux environmental group gives Pemberton speech October 16, 2008

Two-day training conference prepares anti-IPP activists for major offensive October 3, 2008

Academic report destroys basis of anti-IPP campaign October 1, 2008

Veteran journalist’s anti-IPP involvement raises concerns July 14, 2008

Big money backs the campaign against clean electricity June 19, 2008

Is BC Hydro turning away from clean energy? June 16, 2008

Anti-run-of-river re-runs coming to the Kootenays June 11, 2008

B.C. Citizens for Green Energy congratulates Vancouver Electric Vehicle Association for annual show
June 6, 2008

Run-of-river hydro project short-listed for Canadian Environment Award May 22, 2008

Anti-IPP myths, misinformation and great big whoppers April 25, 2008

The anti-IPP campaign: Creative hyperbole, inflationary hyperbole, relentless hyperbole and lack of attribution April 16, 2008

Opposition to run of river ideological, not environmental March 25, 2008

Newly formed citizens’ group supports independently produced clean electricity March 11, 2008

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