The leader of British Columbia's New Democrats has given his strongest indication yet that he would impose a moratorium on new Independent Power Projects (IPP) in the province's rivers should his party form the next government.
The NDP is riding high after polls in February indicated that around 45 per cent of voters would choose them.
NDP leader Adrian Dix told journalist Rafe Mair in a recent interview that IPPs needed reconsideration.
"I don't hesitate to say that we have a different approach (compared to the ruling Liberal Party)... that we're going to be putting a moratorium on and reviewing those contracts, but the question would be what are the conditions by which a rotten contract could be broken?"
Dix also wanted to see BC Hydro "back in the business of producing power so it is public power, not private power." He called the state of the utility and the billion dollars spent on the smart meters program "a massive scandal" undertaken by the current Liberal government of Christy Clark.
"(The IPP program) is a very serious situation. In many cases contracts have been signed that are not positive for British Columbia. The government excluded many of these contracts from the BCUC (B.C. Utilities Commission), so we have to review all these contracts," he said.
As well, those projects at the application stage would come under review by an NDP government.
"And we don't know even now what we're going to inherit in 2013, what contracts will be signed between now and then," he said.
Dix said it is too early to embrace the idea of buying out existing contracts.
"Buying them out will have costs. You have to act in the public interest... this means, sometimes, not being ideological but being practical," Dix said.
"We think this has had huge costs and every rate payer in B.C. is going be paying the cost for years to come for a set of bad deals."
Nigel Protter is a Pemberton-based consultant to IPP developer Regional Power, proponent of the Ryan River Hydro Project. His work includes looking at sustainable development potentials in resource projects and helping companies in the resource industry, including those run by First Nations, to attain realistic goals in sustainability through industry.
"I'm strictly apolitical, both in my work with aboriginal people and with respect to Liberal vs. NDP," he said.
Renewable energy projects across a spectrum of technologies is the best way to dispense with carbon energy and greenhouse gases, Protter added.
"Adrian Dix and his team know very well what the reality is, they're not stupid and, of course, Mike Harcourt of the NDP initiated the IPP industry in British Columbia. I think the Liberals did a good job managing it and I think we have the best regulatory environment in the world in B.C. and in Canada, though that's not saying it's perfect," he said.