Energy policy in the Province of BC continues to evolve, as so it should. In the past few months, Premier Clark has made some excellent options available to British Columbians, by opening the door on the use of natural gas as a clean fuel source. We commend her for this.
Now, however, is the time to translate those words into action. The Clean Energy Act appears to have been adapted to accommodate the use of natural gas for specific uses such as LNG related power. The problem is a lack of clarity with respect to the present Clean Energy Act.
Some of her statements from earlier in the year indicate that natural gas can and should be used for certain purposes. Yet, local governments such as the Peace River Regional District are unable to interpret the role of natural gas within this framework due to this confusion. Most regrettable however, is, we as a Province are missing the opportunity to utilize this same source of energy in powering our local, regional and provincial economies for superior financial reasons.
With the Nov. 28 announcements made by Minister de Jong, regarding the increased deficit within the Province of BC. , it is now more pertinent than ever to address the clarity issues surrounding the Clean Energy Act and the role that natural gas should be playing within our provincial economy.
You have likely heard of the comparisons being made between the proposed Site C Hydro project and another natural gas powered system presently being constructed in SW Calgary called the Shepard Energy Centre.
The fact of the matter is that this clean natural gas powered, electricity producing plant will be operational by early 2015, meeting all of the tightest environmental restrictions required of it. We can also tell you that for a miniscule 60 acre construction foot print, this natural gas powered plant will produce MORE electrical energy than the proposed Site C project. (6500 Gwh compared to 5100 Gwh for Site C). Its overall efficiency is rated at 92% in comparison to a paltry 52% for the Site C project. Therefore, there is NO waste of 25,000 acres of usable Class 1 farmland or boreal forest to fill a reservoir. WASTE = MONEY.
The key difference between the two systems however, lies in a capital cost comparison between the two facilities: The Shepard Centre is on budget at $1.3 Billion compared with the “estimated” cost of a Site C at $7.9 Billion.
Megawatt for Megawatt, Site C will cost the taxpayers of BC six times (6X) more for exactly the same resulting megawatt of power.
As a result of this comparison, it is incumbent on any government to at least have a public discussion regarding the financial costs incurred with ANY project of this magnitude. Clearly, there are benefits that cannot be overlooked by simply forging ahead with a Site C project without really examining the options.
The Peace Regional District has ratified four motions from the Nov. 22/12 meeting requesting some answers and feedback from the Ministry of Energy. They read as follows:
1) Does the Province have any research identifying and analyzing the cost of capital construction and operations for various types of electrical energy production options? (Oil, gas, wind, solar, hydro, geothermal, coal, nuclear, etc)
2) Does the government possess any studies on the long term investment value to the Province associated with building the Site C energy project as compared to other energy options?
3) If there were no Clean Energy Act, would Site C still be the Province’s number one consideration in meeting its energy needs?
4) Is the province’s present capacity sufficient, and if so, for how many years?
The Peace Regional District is also asking the same questions regarding “choices” for other Energy options, such as gas. Yet, the Government of BC and Hydro are continuing down the Site C path without consideration of the options available.
There is an additional problem as well. Presently, under the Environmental Assessment, (guidelines specifically for Site C), it is entirely up to BC Hydro to determine which alternatives it wishes to present or use. In other words, it will not be a public process that determines the use of natural gas verses Site C. This is clearly not in the best interests of British Columbians.
This Liberal government has been running several made in BC ads with slogans such as:
“BC is balancing the budget by controlling spending”. Another ad states:
“Environmentally friendly natural gas will add $1 Trillion to the BC economy”.
This is all fine if these words and slogans were really put into action. What is presently missing from this slate is the government’s will to investigate and incorporate realistic uses for our product within BC at a substantial cost savings to the taxpayers of this Province.
One of these “uses” is electricity produced from natural gas. For once, we as residents and taxpayers of this province would truly benefit financially from utilizing our natural gas here at home. Yet, we need clarity from government regarding the Clean Energy Act amendments with respect to natural gas usage.
There is now a viable comparison between two power generation systems. Government needs to make some choices: Will we be simply carrying on down the archaic path of building a Site C, that has lost its financial direction, or… will the government initiate a serious look at more financially viable options such as a Shepard Energy facility?
We would appreciate a response from Christy Clark regarding the contents of this letter.