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General News · 27th January 2009
Bill Andrews
For those of you interested in Plutonic's proposed Bute inlet hydro-electric project, the final public information session will be held Feb. 2nd in Campbell River. Public comments on the federal environmental review process will be received only to Feb. 18th so this meeting will be vital.

Please see Jim Abram's note below:

Not to be missed: Public meetings on Bute Inlet energy project

A massive “green” energy mega-project is proposed for Bute Inlet by Plutonic Power Corp and General Electric. It includes 17 hydroelectric facilities, 85 km of penstock, other structures, 267 km of permanent roads and 443 km of high-voltage transmission lines between Bute Inlet and Earl’s Cove.

The giant scale and long-term environmental impacts of this development proposal warrant the most thorough and transparent public and scientific scrutiny.

The BC Environmental Assessment Office is holding public meetings to discuss the environmental review process, and for Plutonic to provide information about its development proposal. Public meetings are scheduled for:

Powell River on January 27 (4-8 pm, Town Centre)

Sechelt on January 28 (4-8 pm, Sechelt Indian Band Hall)

Campbell River: Monday February 2 (4-8 pm, Quinsam Hall.)

High levels of attendance at these meetings, and written public comments are key to what happens next. The federal government may also refer the Bute Inlet project to a more thorough and comprehensive review and public hearings that are important to proper assessment of this mega-development. This is your opportunity to influence what happens to an important part of BC’s wilderness coast!

Comments to the draft terms of reference, and requests for a federal panel review and public hearings will be received only until February 18.

The draft terms of reference for the Bute Inlet Hydroelectric Project can be downloaded from the BC Environmental Assessment Office, at:

http://a100.gov.bc.ca/appsdata/epic/html/deploy/epic_project_home_316.html

To find out more, please contact ButeInletgmail.com or phone 250-285-2846.

You can send comments directly to the Federal Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, attention Marie-France Therrien at bute.reviewceaa-acee.gc.ca and to the Provincial Environmental Assessment Office, attention Kathy Eichenberger, at eaoinfogov.bc.ca
Sorry But....
Comment by Robert Carter on 6th February 2009
Sorry Ian. I´ve read all the propaganda from bc hydro, Plutonic and others. The reality is that it´s all about a short-term ¨gold rush¨ and quick money for investors. It won´t solve BC´s long term energy needs. Meanwhile it will compromise much of what´s left of BC´s precious untouched wilderness. I think it´s a horrible tradeoff. And when does telling me to ´shut up´ count as an argument ? You responded to none of my points. It´s your children who will have to live with the consequences of these decisions. I have a valid opinion and have the right to express it.....even if it differs from what BC Hydro might say. Don´t believe everything you hear especially when it´s from large companies who are profit-motivated and beholden to shareholders.
the facts!
Comment by ian king on 5th February 2009
please if you cannot back up your claims than don't write it. maybe your out of touch with recent news? say, for several years? why don't you look at www.bchydro.com and look at planning regulatory meeting demand? revised jan 13 2009
For ¨Facts¨
Comment by Robert Carter on 4th February 2009
BC Hydro exports power. That´s a fact. And there are lots of examples of wind and solar power working very well around the world. Germany is but one example. I don´t see how trees are any problem with either wind or solar. There was a proposal to build wind turbines south of cape mudge but it was shot down. That proposed project wasn´t anywhere near any trees. Sure on a small scale you need to be mindful about trees falling on your personal wind turbines or solar panels just as you would worry about your roof being hit. Don´t throw the baby out with the bathwater. And speaking of babies, if we are really concerned about our ecological footprint we should abstain from having children since that act causes the biggest footprint possible. Every child is another consumer of power, food, trees, oil...you name it. We should be building smaller, greener houses and having smaller families. Right now the human race is still expanding causing a depletion of natural resources and comromising more wilderness to satisfy it´s needs. I´m sorry Ian but we shouldn´t be letting Plutonic and others develop every last stream in BC. Like everything else it´s all about money taking precidence over the environment. Just my opinion....
facts
Comment by ian king on 2nd February 2009
sorry robert but you cannot say that these are micro hydro, run of the river would be a proper term, do you have any documents that can support your claim that bc just exports and does not import? natural physics would also blow your claim that wind or solar would be less of a footprint. locally the issue with solar and wind always becomes a problem with trees. foot print tends to be site specific, case by case.
1 Big Better than Many Small
Comment by Robert Carter on 1st February 2009
For decades we´ve had a large surplus of cheap power thanks to the WAC Bennet dam. Sure, it created Williston lake and displaced some first nations but in the long run it was better to impliment one HUGE project like that than what is happenning now. Plutonic and others have already applied for hundreds of these micro-hydro projects throughout the province. I agree with many of the comments already posted. It`s a shame that many first nations who haven`t received land claims settlements feel they have no other choice but to make deals with these corporations, many of whom aren`t even based in Canada. So often what sounds good for the short term has long term implications that aren`t clear. I am very concerned that developing every last stream in BC will compromise what`s left of our precious wildlife and untouched wilderness. There must be a better solution.
It's BIG, so it better be SLOW
Comment by David on 30th January 2009
I agree with Ian, hydro power is so much better than coal, but lets not call it zero-carbon, because that's a big lie too.

Public reaction is obviously to not just the sheer scale of the Bute Inlet proposal. I can also sense a widespread public reaction to the BC L:iberal's privatization of the best public hydro system in the country, and also the sheer hypocrisy of ramming Bill C-30 down our throats, which effectively eliminates local government involvement over "strategic" land, resource and environmental issues.

Is that how we maintain the Community Charter, or design a better democracy we can hand on to our kids?

The public generally went along with Plutonic's Toba phase, because it was a much smaller footprint, and the Klahoose First Nation, which deserved the right of veto, successfully negotiated a positive economic partnership with Plutonic in the heart of their homeland, which they obviously care a great deal about, and always have.

But the Bute phase of the Plutonic dream is an order of magnitude greater than Toba. It could include a secondary transmission link over to the Knight Inlet-Loughborough transmission corridor of Kleana's mega-hydro proposal further north. This would create a whole new multi-gigawatt electrical network for Vancouver Island, and grow a new "low hanging branch" on which a whole future crop of small fruity hydro applications will blossom.

Is such a big strategic power development good or bad? It certainly leads to a tremendous potential for Regional Population Growth, at a time when we are learning painfully that there are real ecological limits to our "business as usual" on planet Earth. And per capita, Canadians have the biggest carbon footprints in the world, so we have to count that into the calculations as well.

Surely the First Nations, all coastal residents, the scientists and eco-nomists all need to take a long hard look at what the impacts and tradeoffs will really be, and learn to listen respectfully to different viewpoints about very complex issues. This should not become another foolish wild west gold rush.
The bigger picture
Comment by Bill Andrews on 30th January 2009
Thanks for the comments. I encourage you both to attend the public meeting because the picture is bigger than you may realize....

Yes. without a doubt hydro power is greener than almost any other form of power generation. That's the good news. Here's the bad:

We as BC citizen's will no longer control our most precious, untapped hydro resources. Many of the finest rivers in BC, including those at the head of the Bute are being handed over to private corporations. Personally, I would have no objection if BC Hydro were undertaking these projects so that all British Columbians benefit but that works against the privitization agenda of the BC Liberals.

For example: Plutonic is a private corporation which will collect by it's own admission some $250 million/year in revenues for approx 25 years if the Bute Inlet project goes ahead. Where does this money come from? You and me - in the higher hydro rates you will see in coming years. And Plutonic is half funded by GE so at least half those profits go to the US. So you know, the Campbell government forced BC Hydro to purchase this hydro power at 15 - 20 times for what it can purchase power from it's own supply. It's liquid gold for Plutonic and others.

And that's not all. It's questionable that BC even needs this extra power. BC produces enough power for our own needs (BC does import some cheap Alberta coal fired electricity at night to sell at a higher price to the US but that's another story) and more than one energy analyst has shown that BC can meet future power needs through conservation rather than through new supply - but that's not a sexy proposition for politicians. Regardless whether a power project is green or not, there is no justification for its development if it's not needed.

This is the reality - Plutonic's project is not about power for BC but power for the US. In fact, once the 25 year contract with BC Hydro ends, Plutonic has the legal right to sell power to whomever it chooses in NA at whatever rates it can get. And it will have legal "ownership" of the rivers in perpetuity. This is spelt out in the Campbell gov'ts BC Energy Plan. And Plutonic has told investors that it will sell to California at the first opportunity because their rates are 5x that of BC.

So what does this all mean?

This means British Columbians will eventually be charged California rates for electricity we don't need and produced from BC rivers that we no longer control so that we as rate payers can enrich foreign corporations forever.

As unbelievable as this sounds, this is what's at stake.

And we haven't mentioned the environmental impacts of the largest private power project ever to be undertaken in Canada?

For good background info, see the "Power Play" video at saveourrivers.ca

I'll fill in more details after the meeting.

cheers
Power 4 Export
Comment by Robert Carter on 30th January 2009
Currently BC Hydro exports power. If we only had to provide power for BC there would be no need to these "run-of-river" projects. There are a whole lot more of these projects in the works. Do we really want to see every little stream developed to produce relatively expensive power and potentially compromise more of BC's dissappearing wilderness ? Wind and solar power have a lot less of a footprint than these micro-hydro projects. I really think we should reconsider and rethink this new power "gold rush."
big picture
Comment by ian king on 30th January 2009
anything we do has a foot print, solar wind water, currently bc uses 15% coal . but this not cut and dry because we sell high during high demand and buy low during low demand periods. run of the river turbines offer the best power per foot print ratio beyond any of the alternatives. if i were to think for the future of my children i would choose this over anything else. i do not 100% support this development, but you must understand if there is a demand there will be a foot print some where some how. would you prefer nuclear or coal? if we all curbed our demand then there would be no need for such projects. if we want to get a way from gas and start driving electric cars than we better start thinking of where that energy is going to come from... now!! yes the gov seem to be fast tracking such projects, we could have a meeting about it. but how come we don't have meetings about who buys new t.v's ipods, big houses, ect?this would be way more effective. remember any time you turn on a light something got exploited some where ,some how.
Not "Green !"
Comment by Robert Carter on 28th January 2009
These "green" run-of-river projects are anything but. Some of the last tracts of wild, undeveloped B.C. coast are being compromised by these anything-but-green power projects. They all involve many miles of access roads and power lines and the power produced from them won't be cheap and won't be enough to supply the ever-growing demand for electricity in B.C. It's simply not worth it in the long run to compromise B.C.'s remaining wilderness to make a quick buck.