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Mayor gets municipal participation in IPPs on table for UBCM

By Timothy Schafer, The Nelson Daily

Independent power projects could be on the purview of municipal government if a resolution proposed by Nelson’s mayor passes at the provincial level.

Mayor John Dooley urged the regional district board of directors Thursday to support a resolution to request the Province include local governments as an “equity partner” in clean, renewable energy projects in the future.

They did, with the resolution now being forwarded to the Union of BC Municipality members for their support at the upcoming convention in July.

With the Province committed to ensuring 90 per cent of BC’s electricity generation comes from clean or renewable resources, Mayor Dooley said, there were long term benefits the communities nearby could reap.

He pointed to the $900-million Waneta Expansion Project to Teck’s dam near Trail as an example of how two regional districts could have partnered with the proponents — Columbia Power Corporation, the Columbia Basin Trust and Fortis BC — on a project to keep even more benefits in the local community.

“(If we were involved) we would have some influence on what they would look like, what their impact would be, what their social and economic impacts would be and also, if they move forward, would be the recipient of any profits made on them and that’s a key component as well,” he said.

The resolution is a sustainability piece, he said. The more a municipality can be in charge of their own destiny the more sustainable they can be.

“It’s important for us to recognize that sustainability is a key component of us moving forward and being a player in the development of our resources within our region,” he said.

Hydro generation is just one step, he added. Municipalities need to be a big player in resource extraction in general for oil and gas, mining and forestry.

“The amount of opportunity to generate wealth and prosperity through royalties and participation in those projects is huge,” he said. “That keeps a lot of that revenue in rural BC.”

That would bring back some balance in the rural and urban divide, he said.

“You get to be a player on whether a project is a workable for your community or not,” he said. “Right now we are on the outside looking in.”

Construction began last month on the Waneta Expansion Project as the $900-million powerhouse addition to Teck’s Waneta Dam started in earnest.

Over $162 million in wages over a four-and-a-half year period will be poured into the West Kootenay region as a result of the workforce the expansion will create.

The expansion is also projected to pump $178 million into the local economy through the purchase of goods and services.

In September an agreement in principle was reached between the Columbia Power Corporation and the Columbia Basin Trust with Fortis BC for the construction of a second powerhouse adjacent to Teck's Waneta Dam.

The deal will see BC Hydro buy all the 630 Gigawatt-hours of electricity and associated capacity, while FortisBC will buy the remaining 234 Megawatts of capacity from the 335 Megawatt plant.

Fortis owns 51 per cent of the proposed structure within the partnership, while Columbia Power and CBT own the remainder.

editor@thenelsondaily.com