Indie Power Project moving forward? President will re-apply for rezoning in Pemberton By Paul Andrew Despite overwhelming opposition in the Pemberton Valley, David Andrews is not giving up on his company’s Miller Creek Power Project. During the next few weeks Andrews will be speaking with the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District, seeking another meeting where his proposal will not be taken off the monthly agenda, which is what he says happened at the May 31 meeting when his application to re-zone the Miller Creek watershed was met with a negative attitude. "I think what’s happened there is the residents have been over-burdened with Hydro lines," Andrews said Monday. "And we’re the ones who are receiving the brunt of the negativity because we’re proposing new lines along Hydro’s poles." Andrews said the SLRD decided to take his rezoning application for the Miller Creek watershed off the agenda because of the community’s desire to not have the independent power project in the valley. "We got the impression they weren’t keen but I can’t understand why. The main negative we got was because of the power lines. What we’re planning to do is put three more conductors on the existing lines. But we can’t do anything until we get the land re-zoned." At the moment, the Miller Creek Power Company exists on paper only. Since 1991, Andrews has been pushing to get the project into the Pemberton Valley and was further encouraged in 1994/95 by BC Hydro’s request for proposals by private entrepreneurs to build independent power projects (IPPs) to supply the existing BC Hydro power grid. Alternatively, IPPs could supply private business with enough power to operate independent of BC Hydro’s conventional power supply. Andrews’ proposal didn’t make the short-list in ’95, but that didn’t stop him from moving ahead with the project. The Miller Creek project would sell the power it generates to a buyer outside B.C. "Obviously we would still use BC Hydro’s power grid to move the power to where it was going," Andrews explained. "And it would also act as a back up power supply to Pemberton. I think you might know the power went out over night there (June 16) for several hours. That kind of thing would be avoided in the future if our project went ahead. "But I don’t blame the residents of Pemberton for not wanting any other power lines in their valley. I just think what we have to do is send out a broader message — something that would be more clear — telling people exactly what we propose and how much they would benefit." Independent power projects are not new. There are numerous proposals throughout the province for IPPs, with the Island Cogeneration plant being the latest IPP to win approval. An IPP in the Soo Valley, just north of Whistler’s municipal boundaries, has been supplying the BC Hydro power grid since about 1994 and has gone about its business without creating much attention, according to a spokesperson with the Ministry of Employment and Investment. In April 1996, five IPPs were short-listed by a B.C. government review panel. Those projects were intended to supply BC Hydro with additional power, increasing the reliability of Hydro’s power supply. Among the five proposals was one for Ashlu Creek, to the north-west of Squamish. However, the Ashlu project was deemed to not be cost effective. It would have cost more to run the plant than to operate a natural gas turbine. Eventually, Island Cogeneration’s proposal to build a 240 megawatt power facility in Campbell River was approved. The proposal was particularly attractive because of its ability to supply Fletcher Challenge and Westcoast Power with enough electricity to operate, with surplus going to the BC Hydro grid. Although there are numerous IPP proposals throughout the province, BC Hydro does not need to supply any of its 34 main power stations with more power. However, for a fee Hydro will consider letting IPPs use its power lines and substations, which is what the Miller Creek Power Co. would like to do. A spokesperson at the Ministry of Employment and Investment also said if the Village of Pemberton and the SLRD do not want the Miller Creek project to enter the Pemberton Valley under any circumstances, it is unlikely the government would order the project ahead simply for the tax dollars a $30 million project could generate, and for the two-years of work the project would supply for some local residents.