- Category: news
- Created: Monday, 28 October 2013 14:47
- Published: Monday, 28 October 2013 14:47
- Written by Administrator 3
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By Mike Hager, Vancover Sun, The Canadian Press
First Nations fear they are being cut out of a potential $2.5 billion windfall from the development of B.C.'s liquefied natural gas and mining sector and want the provincial government to mandate at least a quarter of those projects to use energy from B.C.'s independent power producers.
The income could flow to more than 100 First Nations and up to 9,500 spinoff jobs could be created through equity stakes in the mostly run-ofriver hydro projects, royalties from the private sector and revenue sharing with the provincial government, according to a study being presented today at the Clean Energy Association of B.C.'s annual conference.
Judith Sayers, chair of the association's First Nations committee, said BC Hydro's draft plan projects the majority of B.C.'s liquefied natural gas boom will be powered by gasdriven compressors and not independent power producers, which can offer long-term stable revenue for First Nations. "All of a sudden we're being cut out," the former chief of the Hupacasath First Nation said. "If they want to rejuvenate the economy, including First Nations in this is a key part of that.
"The premier and the ministers need to sit down with First Nations and really look at the benefits (of IPP power production)."
Projects like the Hupacasath's China Creek hydro station - which can power up to 6,000 homes and opened in December 2005 - builds First Nations' business capacity and helps fund social programs, Sayers said.
The Hupacasath own almost threequarters of the $13.8-million project and is using a 20-year BC Hydro contract to pay off the station's debt within a year or two, Sayers said.
The association said 125 of B.C.'s 203 First Nations are somehow involved in independent power production.
Shishalh (Sechelt) First Nation Chief Garry Feschuk said his band has gained invaluable experience in the industry since an independent power production facility was built on its territory in 1997. The Shishalh are now considering building a cluster of five similar hydro stations of their own.
Recently, Energy Minister Bill Bennett announced BC Hydro will cancel as many as 10 electricity purchase contracts on clean energy projects from independent power producers to contain rising energy costs. Delivery is being deferred on another nine contracts. Bennett could not be reached Sunday, but is scheduled to speak at the association's conference today.
Bennett's ministry is reviewing Hydro's plan for meeting B.C. electricity needs. Paul Kariya, executive director of the Clean Energy Association of B.C., said he hopes "the door isn't closed" and that all parties can find a "sweet spot" where independent power producers can provide some of the energy needed in B.C.'s north.