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Ryan project doesn’t make Clean Power cut



The Ryan River hydro project has failed to make BC Hydro's Clean Power Call this time around.

Regional Power Inc. got an e-mail from BC Hydro last week informing them that they were not successful in the current Clean Power Call, which seeks proposals for "clean" energy projects that use sources such as wind, solar and run-of-river to generate electricity.

The Ryan River project is a 145 MW run-of-river facility that's been the prime focus of an anti-Independent Power Project (IPP) movement in Pemberton. Regional Power proposed to burrow a tunnel through Sugarloaf Mountain and divert part of the Ryan's flow to a generating station on the other side.

From there it was expected to return the water to the river and into a spawning channel that the developers say could save a stream that's been heavily impacted by logging activity.

Susan Danard, a spokeswoman for BC Hydro, said the power authority has completed announcements regarding the latest Clean Power Call and won't be extending power purchase agreements to any further proposals.

"We actually had an announcement a few weeks ago where we announced the ones that were going ahead," she said. "We've had a couple and we're announcing them in groups. We had a third set that were announced around May 6.

"There were 25 and Ryan River is not on that list. It is fair to say they won't be proceeding under the Clean Power Call."

Nigel Protter, a Pemberton-based consultant working with Regional Power to situate their facility on the Ryan, said in an interview that the project's lack of success in the Clean Power Call doesn't mean it won't move forward in the future.

"There's a lot of changes that are about to happen with the new Clean Energy Act," he said. "The Ryan project was, if not the last, it's one of the very last projects that was not selected. That probably indicates it was very, very close. It was probably just a little higher than the current price they're willing to pay for power."

Protter went on to say that one of the main factors in the Ryan not being selected could have been the costs associated with building a 10 kilometre tunnel to divert the flow of the river.

In total, the company would have to displace about 200,000 cubic metres of igneous rock to build the project, waste that could later be used for other purposes should organizations and groups in the Village of Pemberton request it.

Protter said the risk involved in digging the tunnel likely could have driven up the cost of electricity that the Ryan project was to generate.

"A tunnel, if you run into some unknown problems, they can become costed up in the construction phase," he said. "So there's a risk premium attached for projects that have tunnels and that risk premium causes you to raise your price because you can't guarantee the tunnel will come in for X dollars."

Detractors in Pemberton have worried that the project will essentially "privatize" the river because it's being promoted by Regional Power, a Mississauga-based subsidiary of Manulife Financial. Opponents of the project have placed "Stop Ru(I)n of River" signs at properties in the Pemberton Meadows.



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