LETTER TO THE EDITOR: City IPP Stance
Regarding your article “Speaking for Rosslanders – Council takes a stance on IPPs” and the discussion question you raise.
I agree with Mr. Kenyon that this is not an issue that Rossland Council should be getting into. The letter they are proposing to send to the Provincial Government certainly does not represent my views and seems to be based on uninformed opinion.
First of all, Council is not taking a stance on Independent Power Producers (IPPs). IPPs cover a whole range of energy projects including biomass, wind, solar, tidal, geothermal, hydro and even fossil fuels. Council has chosen to express their opinions on hydro projects only, presumably as a result of the presentation by Rafe Mair and others on “run-of-river” projects.
In my opinion there is nothing wrong with the IPP concept, including “run-of –river” hydro projects …if done properly. The Raif Mair presentation focused on projects which had been done badly and proposals which are poorly conceived, such as the Glacier / Howser proposal.
The Provincial government has published a 152-page guidebook for Independent Power Production in BC. This deals with all the regulatory requirements and where local governments and First Nations fit into the picture. If Rossland Council is going to spend some of their valuable time on this issue, they should at least read the guidelines and then offer constructive suggestions for improvement of the regulatory process.
There are many regulations in place that an IPP has to conform to. Some of the examples of poor projects might indicate that the Provincial Government is lax in its enforcement of the regulations, if that is the case, then what should be lobbied for is proper enforcement of the regulations and guidelines and not a moratorium or hold on issuing licenses.
The Council letter reportedly suggests that water in BC’s streams and rivers (should) remain in perpetuity as a public resource for the use and benefit of the people of BC. The Water Act already vests ownership of water in streams in BC in the Provincial Crown / Government so why is it necessary for Rossland Council to write to the Government about this? Although the Act vests ownership of the water in the Crown, the guidelines say that water power licenses are for a 40 year period to provide some certainty to companies considering investing in a water IPP.
Any waterpower IPP needs a water license for the diversion and use of water from streams, just as Rossland requires a license to divert water from streams for our consumption. There are limits on the amount of water we can divert from streams and similarly there are limits as to how much can be diverted for power production. The Glacier Howser proposal is one where limits should be properly enforced and Citizen groups and Local Governments to ensure that this is done should lobby Government agencies.
The letter also reportedly suggests that any new power generated from these waters should remain as a public resource. What does this mean? Anyone who is willing to invest in an IPP should be allowed to make a reasonable profit from selling the power. There is some controversy about the rates guaranteed by the Government and this needs to be reviewed. However, if one looks to other countries that are leaders in renewable energy projects, it is private companies that are leading the way in developing and building these power projects, not Governments.
Even the Queeen of England (and Canada) is getting in on the IPP action in the UK. The Queens estate has placed an order for what will be the worlds biggest wind turbine with a turbine diameter of 492 feet and a height of over 600 feet.
Citizens and Local Governments should be vigilant and become involved when there are specific projects that affect them in their area. The Glacier / Howser proposal is an example. Dealing with specifics is more productive than sending “motherhood” resolutions to the Provincial Government such as those proposed by Rossland Council.
In answer to the Telegraph discussion question, I think that Rossland Council should stop wasting its valuable time on this issue and devote its abundant energy to dealing with more important Rossland matters. I don’t think Council is speaking on behalf of the City with the stance they have chosen to take. How many people have been canvassed? Any letter they may decide to send to the Provincial Government should make it clear that this is the personal opinion of a few Councillors only.
May 15th 2009