“This project is not ‘run-of-river.’ It involves draining alpine lakes by levels of 60 feet in depth, diverting waterfalls and clearcutting linear swaths for power lines and penstocks. This will permanently industrialize a local pristine fjord for the sole purpose of private profit.”
I read a letter to the editor published by The Tri-Cities Now, March 11, 2015. Since it adds information about the Narrows Inlet project that has been discussed here previously, it is worth republishing:
I was disappointed to read a letter by BC Liberal MLA Linda Reimer regarding closing of Burrard Thermal in the Feb 20th edition of the Tri-Cities NOW.
In her letter, Ms. Reimer stated NDP MLA Selena Robinson was misleading constituents and creating an issue where there isn’t one. I submit Ms. Reimer is the one misleading constituents when speaking of a $14-million-a-year saving to B.C. ratepayers. I invite her response to the BC Liberal decision to proceed with more private power contracts, of which the recently approved Narrows Inlet Hydro project on the Sunshine Coast is a prime example.
Based on their Energy Purchase Agreement from BC Hydro, this project alone will represent an approximate $10-million-per year obligation by BC Hydro ratepayers. This project is not “run-of-river.” It involves draining alpine lakes by levels of 60 feet in depth, diverting waterfalls and clearcutting lineal swaths for power lines and penstocks. This will permanently industrialize a local pristine fjord for the sole purpose of private profit.
Unlike Burrard Thermal, and like the majority of IPP (independent power producer) hydro projects, it cannot provide power when we most need it. The water mysteriously goes hard in the winter. The Narrows Inlet project is far removed from point of use, and unlike Burrard Thermal, relies on a spider web of transmission lines to supply power to our area.
Narrows Inlet is but one example of approving private projects over the continuing use of our already paid for, economically feasible and publicly owned Burrard Thermal. It is with equal disappointment I see Ms. Reimer disregard comments made by Martin Cavin in his letter to the editor of Feb 27, which refuted all of Ms. Reimer’s comments.
This is not a left or right thing; it is about looking after our province. Our current (no pun intended) provincial government is following the lead of the federal Harper government by way of stifling those knowledgeable in the field.
I challenge Ms. Reimer to justify her concern for greenhouse gas emissions and local pollution when Premier Christy Clark has proclaimed burning of natural gas exempt from any such worries if used for LNG export purposes, yet not the case when a publicly owned facility is involved.K.H.
Following is the Martin Cavin letter referenced above. It is by a writer who has knowledge of his subject gained by years of direct experience:
I retired in 2013 after working 24 years as a power engineer at Burrard Thermal. I take issue with many of the statements about Burrard made by MLA Linda Reimer in her letter to the editor.
If Hydro needed Burrard to run non-stop at full output for decades, perhaps $1 billion would be required to refurbish the plant. But Burrard’s ideal role is a standby plant for system emergencies and for meeting peak loads during the winter months. The plant would typically run no more than 10 per cent of the year and the cost to refurbish it for this role would be closer to five per cent of what Ms. Reimer suggests.
Burrard’s efficiency is typical for a standby plant. No electrical utility spends billions to build highly efficient standby plants that sit idle most of the time. Nor are millions spent installing advanced pollution control equipment.
Burrard is an exception, with equipment that reduces its nitrogen oxide emissions by 90 per cent. At 900 megawatts (MW) output for 10 per cent of the year, annual nitrogen oxide emissions would be 85 tonnes out of a Lower Fraser Valley total of 55,000 tonnes. In comparison a single LNG export terminal burning gas would emit over 3,000 tonnes of such emissions annually.
As for greenhouse gas emissions, Burrard on 10 per cent standby would emit less than one per cent of B.C.’s total. A single LNG export terminal burning gas would emit 10 times the greenhouse gases of a standby Burrard. Ms. Reimer should read BC Hydro’s 20-year Integrated Resource Plan, released Nov. 2013 (Google “BC Hydro IRP”). Of interest is Chapter 9 – Recommended Actions. There is a contingency plan which shows what Hydro needs to do if its very aggressive energy conservation program is only partially successful.
The critical shortage would be capacity, meaning Hydro would not have enough generators to supply peak loads. Burrard is ideal for providing such capacity. The capacity chart on page 9-78 shows that peaking power may have to be imported (from the U.S. or Alberta) as early as 2016, the same year that Burrard is shut down. This power, 40 per cent of which is coal generated, may not always be available and could cost up to $1,000 a megawatt hour. In addition new gas-fired peaking plants could be required in B.C. as early as 2018. Saying that $14 million a year is saved by closing Burrard is only half the equation.
What is the cost to replace the lost 900 MW? I challenge Ms. Reimer to show where this much capacity can be reliably obtained elsewhere that is cheaper and cleaner than Burrard.
In past years such issues were reviewed by the B.C. Utilities Commission, which determined that shutting down Burrard would end up costing Hydro more money than it would save.M.C.