Sun 26 Oct 2008
The BC Creek Protection Society and several other NGOs from BC have written a letter to the California Government. The letter is a result of a collaboration with the Hydro Reform Coalition and was triggered by a recently released study by the major utility PG&E.
The report released in June 2008 by Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), a California utility, presents the results of a study of BC’s green energy potential. Phase 1 of the BC Renewable Study recognizes that the potential renewable generation of BC is much greater than that required to meet the forecasted load within province. PG&E further acknowledges that BC and CA have complimentary periods of peak energy demand, and there are “mutual benefits” to California importing the excess energy procured in the name of self-sufficiency. The report concludes that there is a strong feasibility of building a high-capacity overland transmission line from BC to CA to import the predicted surplus of green energy (namely wind, RoR hydro, biomass and geothermal) created by numerous IPPs in BC, and that the project should proceed to Phase 2. However, there are several hurdles that must be overcome before BC energy can meet California’s needs.
Concurrent with this report is a proposal to increase the RPS (Renewable Portfolio Standards) requirements in California from 20% to 33% of energy production from renewable sources. This means that green power, as defined by CA RPS, will be in even higher demand, putting pressure on California utilities to acquire energy that is RPS eligible. Generation facilities in BC must satisfy the same requirements as those in California if the power they generate is to be imported as green energy. Wind and biomass power produced in BC are green by California standards, but RoR hydropower,
as implemented in BC, is not.
With the majority of green power in BC from RoR, it is expected to see a push from PG&E to weaken RPS hydro standards in California (redefining green hydropower) so that BC RoR power is RPS eligible. In particular, PG&E state in the report that “PG&E’s consultants have found that RoR projects do not have major impacts on the overall environment of the watershed”, and allude that Phase 2 of the BC Renewable Study would include working with policymakers to adjust RPS eligibility for small hydro. These legislative amendments may occur as soon as August 31, 2008, when bills must be to the governor if they are to be moved this year. Current green hydro standards in California must be defended to avoid large scale ecological impacts in BC.
As a result, the Alpine Club of Canada (Vancouver Island Section), BC Creek Protection Society, Canoe Kayak BC - Whitewater, Cariboo Chilcotin Conservation Society, Burke Mountain Naturalists, Purcell Alliance for Wilderness, Raincoast Conservation Society, Vancouver Island White-water Paddling Society, and the Western Canada Wilderness Committee wrote and signed the attached letter: