Burrard Thermal generating station has been idle since 2016, when the gas-fired power plant was shut down. (Wikimedia Commons)

NDP changing B.C. Hydro rules to import clean electricity

‘Lots of interest’ in developing Burrard Thermal site

The B.C. NDP government is moving ahead with plans to phase out contracted private power within the province, increase clean power imports and develop the mothballed Burrard Thermal gas-fired generating plant site in the Lower Mainland, possibly for clean energy production.

Energy and Mines Minister Bruce Ralston says amendments he introduced in the B.C. legislature this week will get rid of the former B.C. Liberal government’s requirement that B.C. Hydro be self-sufficient in electricity supply, even in low-water years for its network of big dams. That decision led to construction of the Site C dam on the Peace River, and a series of private run-of-river generating projects that were bitterly opposed by the NDP.

In an interview with Black Press Media June 25, Ralston said the shift to certified clean imported power follows similar moves by Washington and California, and will allow trading of electricity between jurisdictions that qualify. Instead of requiring power to be produced in B.C., the legislation required B.C. Hydro to deliver certified clean power to all customers connected to its grid.

“It will give a certain flexibility to the utility so that it will be able to import, particularly from jurisdictions where there is a 100-per-cent clean standard, rather than the self-sufficiency requirement, which was basically designed to make sure that private power companies were able to prosper,” Ralston said.

RELATED: 15th court action dismissed against Site C dam

RELATED: B.C. geothermal potential heats up with new study

RELATED: NDP cancels B.C. Hydro clean energy purchase program

Alberta, which has coal and gas-fired electricity and was in discussions with B.C. for further grid connections, would not qualify as a clean power producer for B.C. under the amendments introduced June 23.

Ralston said private power producers like the Forrest Kerr project on the Iskut River in northwest B.C. will be around for many more years. AltaGas started that run-of-river project in 2014, with a 60-year, indexed sales contract with B.C. Hydro.

While Forrest Kerr serves a remote region, some B.C. private power projects were built or planned for export to the U.S. under former premier Gordon Campbell’s green energy plan. But the shale gas boom provided a cheap alternative to coal south of the border, making the U.S. the only major greenhouse gas producer to significantly reduce its emissions in recent years.

The ministry says B.C. Hydro will spend about $1.5 billion on independent power purchases in fiscal 2021 alone, and long-term contracts represent a future financial commitment of more than $50 billion.

The Burrard Thermal gas-fired power plant, first built in 1958 and the largest power production infrastructure in the Lower Mainland, has sat idle since 2016. Ralston says the 180-acre site on Burrard Inlet is mostly unused and is a sought-after industrial property that could be used for solar or other clean energy use.

“It’s a marvellous site,” Ralston said. “It’s connected to the gas pipeline, it’s on the water, it’s zoned for industrial use, it’s away from residential areas. So I think the potential to pursue alternate opportunities is huge.”

B.C. Hydro is prevented by heritage asset designation from selling or even leasing the site, he said, and not much can be said about the operators interested in using it.

“I wouldn’t want to predetermine what it is,” Ralston said. “There will be bidders and it will be a competitive process, but I know there is a lot of interest in the site.”


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislature

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Gallery 2 reopens, offers video summer activities

The hand-washing sequence and the people-packed panoramas on display offer new interpretations

Mills oppose Celgar’s ask for cheaper logs destined for chipper

The Castlegar mill has asked the province for a lower rate for any log that goes straight to pulp

QUIZ: Put your knowledge of Canada to the test

How much do you know about our country?

$335K spent on Boundary flood protection for 2020 freshet

The RDKB and City of Grand Forks are submitting their receipts to the province

Province releases report on Columbia River Treaty public feedback

Reservoir levels, fair compensation for impacted communities, among many issues raised

All community COVID-19 outbreaks declared over in B.C.

Abbotsford manufacturer cleared by Dr. Bonnie Henry

B.C. First Nations vow to keep fighting after Trans Mountain pipeline appeal denied

Squamish Nation, Tsleil-Waututh Nation and Coldwater Indian Band made the application

‘Queue jumpers’ not welcome in B.C. as COVID-19 U.S. cases rise: Horgan

Premier Horgan said he’s heard concerns that Americans have stopped at Vancouver hotels instead of heading to their destination

US officer resigns after photos, connected to death of black man in 2019, surface

Elijah McClain died, last summer, after police placed him in a chokehold

Black worker files discrimination complaint against Facebook

Oscar Veneszee, Jr. has worked as an operations program manager at Facebook since 2017

Ottawa jail inmates argue anti-COVID measures a breach of charter rights

The prisoners allege guards did not wear masks until April 25

Nestle Canada selling bottled water business to local family-owned company

The Pure Life bottled water business is being sold to Ice River Springs

US unemployment falls to 11%, but new shutdowns are underway

President Donald Trump said the jobs report shows the economy is “roaring back”

Most Read