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Ryan River IPP to continue near Pemberton

Run-of-river project still being developed despite rate review's hard line on energy procurement



The proposed Ryan River project is to continue in Pemberton, despite calls to ramp down BC Hydro's dependence on more expensive private energy.

That, at least, is the position of David Carter, executive vice-president of Regional Power, which has long worked to develop the run-of-river project north of the Pemberton Meadows.

"That's a yes, for sure," Carter said when asked whether the company would keep pushing to locate a project near Pemberton.

"As a company we believe in what we do, we believe that the long-term aspect of waterpower has always demonstrated its value and benefit to society and it will continue to be a value and benefit."

The Ryan River project, a proposed 145 Megawatt run-of-river facility, is one of a plethora of projects popping up on rivers throughout the province. Pemberton already has run-of-river projects located on Miller Creek and Rutherford Creek, and has three more planned for streams connected to the Lillooet River.

Those three projects, collectively termed the Upper Lillooet cluster while being pushed by Creek Power Inc., have already been extended electricity purchase agreements (EPA's) through the province's 2008 Clean Power Call and they're currently moving through an Environmental Assessment Process (EAO).

"We have agreements in place with BC Hydro so I don't how they would affect our project," project director Natalie Closs said of recent calls to ramp down dependence on private energy after the release of the recent provincial BC Hydro rate review. That review looked at a plan by BC Hydro to increase rates by 32 per cent over three years.

The review zeroed in on "energy self-sufficiency" as a cause for the increase, alongside hiring practices that have allegedly seen BC Hydro's workforce grow to about 1,000 more than the company needs.

Electricity self-sufficiency is a policy in the Clean Energy Act that states BC Hydro must hold an amount of electricity that meets the power authority's energy requirement forecasts by 2016. It also states that BC Hydro must generate 3,000 gigawatt hours of additional electricity by 2020.

BC Hydro planned to obtain much of this electricity through independent power producers (IPPs) like the Ryan River and the Upper Lillooet, where electricity is currently more expensive than public dams or the open market.

The rate review stated that electricity self-sufficiency is a "significant planning constraint" that would affect BC Hydro's ability to offer "cost effective energy solutions."

Meanwhile, the Vancouver Sun recently quoted BC Hydro CEO Dave Cobb saying that if the provincial government doesn't change its policies the power authority would be spending "hundreds of millions of dollars" on more long-term power than it needs.

For its part, the province is mum on what it will do about electricity self-sufficiency or future calls for private energy. A spokesman with the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources said the next call for power could come following review of BC Hydro's Integrated Resource Plan, which is to be submitted to the province in 2012.

"We want to make sure BC Hydro has the processes in place to get maximum value for money, whether it's an agreement to purchase clean, renewable electricity or a fleet of hydro repair trucks," the spokesman said.

As for electricity self-sufficiency, the spokesman said the province will deal with the panel's policy recommendations this fall.



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