OTTAWA—The Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA)is calling on on the British Columbia government to “take into consideration a broader range” of options after the province conditionally approved a massive hydroelectric dam this week.
While the Site C dam on the Peace River in northeastern B.C. works its way through the regulatory process, the association is requesting the government look at “a broader range of cost-competitive clean energy options” before issuing final approval.
“Wind energy now represents the bulk of B.C.’s lowest-cost, emission-free renewable energy generation opportunities,” CanWEA president Robert Hornung said in a statement.
“B.C. has an abundance of world-class wind sites that can be developed flexibly on a scale that matches changing economic conditions and electricity demand, addresses environmental concerns, and reduces the potential financial risks of new electricity generation to B.C. ratepayers and taxpayers.”
The province, which, along with the federal government, approved the $7.9-billion project this week, must still decide whether Site C is the best investment decision for generating new, large-scale electricity generation in B.C.
According to The Canadian Press, “B.C. Environment Minister Mary Polak said the province remains convinced building the dam is in the public interest and its benefits outweigh the risks of significant adverse environmental, social and heritage effects.”
An area First Nation has come out in recent weeks to declare it will not support two megaprojects in the region, claiming the government must choose between Site C or the development of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry.
CanWEA’s Hornung said wind energy developments, however, “already enjoy the strong support of First Nations” as well as B.C. residents at large.
“Wind is producing enough electricity to power every household in northern B.C.,” he said, “and continues to help spread economic benefits to many more B.C. communities, creating permanent revenue streams and sustainable jobs in local communities and for First Nations interested in participating in the development and ownership of clean energy projects that will bring new revenues to their communities.”
Hornung added that wind energy development in B.C. faces an uncertain future despite the perceived benefits.
“Investment markets are competitive, and the absence of a clear signal from the B.C. government to seek more wind energy in its electricity system means that wind energy investors will soon shift resources to more promising markets, representing a significant lost opportunity for British Columbia,” he said.
“Leadership in clean energy in B.C. means all electricity supply options, including wind, are considered and assessed to ensure that next-generation power assets offer the greatest benefit at the lowest economic and environmental cost to all British Columbians.”