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

Helen Horn climbs the Lone Butte at 96 with help from friends and family

‘I did as I was told and I enjoyed every minute of it’

Owner looks to rezone property in Lac la Hache

The existing number of dwellings are not allowed under the current zoning

Rain prompts travel advisories, road closures in Cache Creek area

No stopping during heavy rain on highways near Cache Creek

Cariboo waterways swell as special weather statement, rain continues Thursday July 2

Quesnel River at Likely and Quesnel Lake seeing 20 to 50 year events

Greeny Lake VFD becoming a CRD fire department considered not viable

‘We must ensure that the services we provide are realistically sustainable’

UPDATE: Military reservist facing 22 charges after allegedly ramming gates at Rideau Hall

The man, who police have not yet officially identified, will be charged with multiple offences

B.C.’s major rivers surge, sparking flood warnings

A persistent low pressure system over Alberta has led to several days of heavy rain

B.C.’s Indigenous rights law faces 2020 implementation deadline

Pipeline projects carry on as B.C. works on UN goals

‘Mind boggling’: B.C. man $1 million richer after winning Lotto 6/49 a second time

David O’Brien hopes to use his winnings to travel and of course keep playing the lottery

White-throated sparrows have changed their tune, B.C. study unveils

Study marks an unprecedented development scientists say has caused them to sit up and take note

Homicide investigation underway in Prince George

A 26-year-old woman has died as a result of stabbing.

B.C. teacher loses licence after sexual relationships with two recently-graduated students

The teacher won’t be allowed to apply for a teaching certificate until 2035

Lower Mainland teacher facing child pornography charges

Elazar Reshef, 52, has worked in the Delta School District

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

Abbotsford manufacturer cleared by Dr. Bonnie Henry

Most Read