News of four cancelled private power contracts a small step forward, says Wilderness Committee

Friday, August 30, 2013 (All day)

News Release - August 30, 2013

VANCOUVER – The Wilderness Committee today applauded Thursday's news that BC Hydro has cancelled four electricity purchase contracts with independent power producers as part of an attempt to reduce costs.

The Wilderness Committee's National Campaign Director Joe Foy called on BC Energy Minister Bill Bennett to name the projects with cancelled or deferred contracts, and to continue this cost-saving effort by cancelling many more unneeded contracts with private hydro-power producers.

"We and many other groups and individuals have been saying for quite some time now that BC Hydro is being bled to death by being forced into long-term contracts with private hydro-power producers at rates far above market value – for electrical energy BC does not need and can only sell at a loss," said Foy.

BC Hydro has currently signed more than $50 billion worth of contracts with private hydro-power producers. Critics, including the Wilderness Committee, have said that these contracts risk bankrupting the public utility and that private power projects can cause unacceptable damage to BC's creeks, rivers and lakes.

Reports on Thursday stated that the projects identified for cancellation were not meeting contractual obligations, due to financial or regulatory problems. Government documents uncovered by the Wilderness Committee through Freedom of Information requests have revealed rampant non-compliance at operating private hydro-power projects in the province – including fluctuating water levels that can strand and kill fish.

"Mr. Bennett should be doing everything he possibly can to wriggle out of all of these terrible contracts," said Foy. "For every billion dollars he claws back by cancelling a contract, BC won't miss the excess electricity one bit – but the province will save more funding for hospitals or schools and help pull BC Hydro back from financial ruin. And we'll be saving BC's beautiful wild waterways from being dammed and diverted into pipes for no useful reason," he added.

The Wilderness Committee is especially concerned about a number of large private hydro-power projects currently being built or in the planning stage.

"The Kokish River on Vancouver Island, the Upper Lillooet north of Pemberton and Kwoiek Creek in the Fraser Canyon are three examples of major private power projects in the works that risk great environmental and financial damage to our province," said Foy. "These contracts need to be rejected and the projects stopped dead".


For more information, contact:

Joe Foy, National Campaign Director, Wilderness Committee
(604) 683-8220 [office] (604) 880-2580 [cell]


Photo: A portion of the construction in process for the Kokish River IPP, February 2013. Photo by Gwen Barlee.

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