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Author Topic: Minister will sink Pitt project -- again  (Read 2171 times)


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Minister will sink Pitt project -- again
« on: December 03, 2008, 04:56:05 PM »

Minister will sink Pitt project -- again
By Scott SimpsonDecember 3, 2008
An independent power project that evoked a public outcry, and a swift rejection by government last March, is being pitched again for the Upper Pitt River Valley. But it is just as unlikely to win support this time, either.

Provincial Environment Minister Barry Penner last March rejected Run of River Power's bid to build a transmission line through Pinecone Burke provincial park to connect the stations to the B.C. electricity grid.

In an interview on Tuesday, Penner said he is not prepared to reconsider that decision.

Run of River Power, which proposes to spend $350 million to build a series of seven small-hydro generating stations on tributaries of the Upper Pitt River, is one of the bidders on the list BC Hydro released this week for its 2008 "Clean Call" for electricity supply.

In Run of River's most recent quarterly financial statement, president and CEO Jako Krushnisky said the company has submitted an application to the B.C. Transmission Corp. that includes "an alternate transportation route from the original proposed for this project."

The Upper Pitt Valley is flanked on three sides by provincial parks, and on the fourth by the world's largest tidal lake. It appears from the company's quarterly statement that the revised proposal would also require a route through the park.

Krushnisky was out of town and unavailable for comment on Tuesday.

Run of River also needs a lengthy set of government approvals for the project, including a successful environmental assessment, and a contract to sell power to BC Hydro.

But approval to run the transmission line through the park is fundamental to the project, and Penner said he's not prepared to reverse his earlier decision.

"I have not changed my mind about my reluctance to take forward any amendments [to the legislature] to the Park Act to facilitate the project that had been proposed this past spring," Penner said. "My position remains the same on that issue."

Penner added that the province's Environmental Assessment Office has received no applications from Run of River to indicate it wants to resubmit its transmission proposal.

Elaine Golds, conservation chair for the Burke Mountain Naturalists, said the environment minister made it clear when he rejected the earlier plan that the government opposes running a transmission line through the park.

"I was astounded to see they were listed [by BC Hydro] as a proposal and in particular that they had identified another transmission corridor," Golds said in an interview. "It's a total shock, and I can't see how this can be viable."

Melissa Davis, executive director of B.C. Concerned Citizens for Public Power, said she "can't imagine a more controversial private power project to re-emerge in the public's radar."

"This is a massive development -- requiring extensive logging, road construction, rock blasting, river diversion, transmission line construction -- that infringes on first nations traditional territories, threatens our forests, waterways, and numerous species of fish."

David Austin, a B.C. energy sector commentator, cautioned that the project is still only "in the very preliminary stages."

"There is a very large number of projects that BC Hydro can pick and choose from. BC Hydro doesn't have an infinite need for electricity," Austin said. "Most of these projects on the list are not going to be built for the purpose of these calls. There are going to be far more losers than winners."

Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun
another SLICE of dirty fish perhaps?