B.C. pulls plug on power projects

BC Hydro has cancelled or deferred four electricity purchase contracts with independent power producers, and the total may reach 20

Wind turbine components await construction at independent power project near Chetwynd in 2008. High construction costs stalled B.C.'s first commercial wind energy project

BC Hydro has cancelled or deferred four electricity purchase contracts with independent power producers, and the total may reach 20 by the time a review of projects is complete, Energy Minister Bill Bennett said Thursday.

Bennett said the review is part of a broader effort by BC Hydro to meet his instruction to “spend less money,” as he leads an effort to reduce costs across all government operations.

BC Hydro proposed the move, identifying the 20 project proponents that were not meeting their contract obligations due to financing, regulatory or other problems. That non-performance gives BC Hydro legal authority to delay or terminate contracts.

The utility has contracts with 81 operating projects, mostly run-of-river hydroelectric, and another 47 are under construction or seeking permits after receiving purchase contracts.

BC Hydro released its latest draft resource plan last week, which estimates the province has enough electricity supply to meet growing demand for the next 10 years. Bennett said he is skeptical about that forecast, with population growth and industrial demand from new mines and natural gas development in northern B.C., but it gives the utility some breathing room.

“I’m a real fan of the clean energy industry, but obviously we don’t want to be agreeing to buy more power than what we need,” Bennett said.

BC Hydro has been criticized in recent years for running up billions in deferred debt, as it completes major expansion and seismic upgrading of its network of dams. A new power line to northeast B.C. has run over budget, and the NDP opposition has accused the government of forcing BC Hydro to buy private power at inflated rates through contracts running as long as 40 years.

Bennett said he has asked for a detailed analysis of the cost of private power compared to new sources such as the proposed Site C dam on the Peace River or adding turbines to BC Hydro dams on the Columbia River.

B.C.’s Clean Energy Act requires BC Hydro to be self-sufficient in electricity by 2016, based on an average rainfall year to replenish its hydro dams. The requirement is to minimize the import of power generated by burning coal or natural gas.

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

Just Posted

A Saanich police officer in an unmarked vehicle stopped a driver going 70 km/h over the speed limit in front of the police department. (Saanich Police Traffic Safety Unit/Twitter)
Driver caught going 70 km/h over the speed limit in front of the Saanich Police Department

Officer in unmarked car issues $483 ticket, week-long vehicle impound

BC Greens leader Sonia Furstenau says British Columbians face a choice between “false majority government” and a “more cooperative, collaborative” form of governance during a campaign stop in Saanich North and the Islands Monday (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
BC Greens leader makes pitch for minority government during stop in Saanich North and Islands

Sonia Furstenau calls on British Columbians to reject ‘false majority government’

Saanich police are investigating a break-in that occurred at the Liquor Plus in the 3800-block of Quadra Street sometime overnight on Oct. 20. (Google Maps)
Investigation continues after overnight break-in at Saanich liquor store

Small wood panel removed, multiple items stolen

Ma Miller’s Pub in Langford. (Michelle Cabana/Black Press Media)
Historic Langford pub serves up some spirits

Ghostly experiences at Ma Miller’s pub

Michael Arthor Leighton is wanted by the Saanich Police Department for assault. (Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers/Twitter)
Police seek man wanted for assault in Saanich, multiple charges in other jurisdictions

Michael Arthor Leighton is known to travel around the Island, Saanich police say

FILE – People wait in line at a COVID-19 testing facility in Burnaby, B.C., on Thursday, August 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
167 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death recorded as B.C. enters 2nd wave

Three new healthcare outbreaks also announced

Advance polls are open from Oct. 15 to 21 with election day on Oct. 24. (Black Press Media file photo)
Rio Tinto Alcan’s aluminum smelter at Kitimat competes against producers in the Middle East and Russia that have no carbon tax. (Rio Tinto)
B.C. carbon tax highest in Canada, export industries unprotected

B.C. NDP, B.C. Liberals say they’re looking at exemptions

(Pixabay)
Vancouver teacher suspended after swearing, touching students and complimenting underwear

McCabe touched students, including rubbing their backs and necks, touching their hair and hugging them

Chris Istace campaigning in Crofton. (Photo submitted)
Green Party’s Istace apologizes for remark about First Nations gaming grants being a ‘handout’

Island candidate determined to do better in thinking and communicating matters of reconciliation

Sails down, masks up for Ron and Sherry Pryde, who completed a 119 day journey that was supposed to be 70 days. (Zoe Ducklow)
Coast Guard towed rudderless sailors to Port Hardy hours before a powerful storm

Rudderless for a month, the couple zigzagged most the way home with “a few donuts and lazy-eights”

A glimpse of some of the 480 (approx) cars written off as a result of the acid spills along the Trail highway in 2018. Photo: Trail Times
2 years after huge highway acid spill, Kootenay Ford dealer’s frustration grows with ICBC

Trail AM Ford owner Dan Ashman says he just wants fair compensation from ICBC

Mail-in ballot from Elections BC (Katya Slepian/Black Press Media)
At least 26% of eligible voters have already cast their ballot, Elections BC says

Voters can cast a ballot until 8 p.m PST on Election Day

A 2018 decision to fly a rainbow flag ended up costing the City of Langley $62,000 in legal fees (Langley Advance Times file)
Human rights win in rainbow flag fight cost B.C. city $62,000

“Lengthy and involved” process provoked by complaint

Most Read