Excerpt from the Official Report of
DEBATES OF THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY

(Hansard)


March 12, 2007

Independent power producers

S. Simpson: I'm pleased to have the opportunity to stand up and speak to this issue around alternate power and independent power. Let me start by saying that on this side of the House we have a long history of supporting green power, of looking at alternatives, of developing those alternatives and promoting those alternatives - unlike the government side. As early as last fall, when we had our little three-day session here, we had the Minister of Energy and the Minister of Environment standing up and campaigning for coal-fired power.

Now their position changed, of course, after the Premier had his revelation in Maui, but they were campaigning for coal-fired power up until that time. Now we've had a change in that position, of course, as we saw in the throne speech.

The real issue with this is the public interest, and we need to look at what the public interest is in this. There are two areas that I'd like to talk about. The first one really is the interest around self-sufficiency and around ownership and water rights. What we know, as my friend from Malahat-Juan de Fuca talked about, is that essentially the government, through the IPP process, is giving away British Columbia assets in terms of water rights in perpetuity to independent power producers. As we heard, in return for that, we're getting something less than $10 a megawatt, and they're selling that to B.C. Hydro for about $87 a megawatt. So it's a pretty good deal, I'd say.

Now, when we talk about it in terms of the long-term public interest, the problem with this, of course, is really around the self-sufficiency question. The member for Richmond-Steveston talked about the goal of 2016 for self-sufficiency, and we'd all like to see that. The problem isn't 2016. We might see self-sufficiency in 2016. The problem is what happens in 2025 and 2030. That's when the issue arises.

The expectation is that upwards of 40 percent of our power will be provided by independent power producers. What happens after those contracts expire? They go to the open market, and they go to the highest bidder. They end up being sold elsewhere. Clearly, we know that California is not waiting around for 2016.

On March 1 we saw the California Utilities Commission give $14 million to Pacific Gas and Electric explicitly for them to look at building transmission lines, the feasibility of transmission lines, to British Columbia and the feasibility of acquisition of green power. They've said that 33 percent of their power has to be green power in California by 2020. They want to get it out of Canada and out of British Columbia.

They're very clear. Their intention is to look at acquisition of British Columbia green energy companies. Then there won't even be a discussion about whether we get to keep that power here. They'll just move it south as soon as those contracts expire. That's the plan. So it's in 2030 as to what kind of self-sufficiency we'll have, not in 2016, but this government is not looking there.

The other issue that I want to touch on very briefly is the issue around sustainability. What we know is that we saw the Squamish-Lillooet deal. We saw Ashlu. We've heard it discussed here - the 60 projects where there are water licence applications in the Squamish-Lillooet area. What do we see with the 60 projects? No planning and no looking at which rivers are appropriate for this and which aren't appropriate. It's a Wild West show out there.

The Squamish-Lillooet regional district asked for planning. This government said no. They gave them Bill 30 instead and crushed their rights as a local government. That's what this is all about.

As my friend, the member for Malahat-Juan de Fuca said, this isn't about bashing independent power producers. It's about bashing a government that ripped up local rights of local governments. It's about bashing a government that can't see past 2016. It's about bashing a government that doesn't care about the future of

energy self-sufficiency in this province as much as it cares about giving money to its friends who pay for its campaigns.

That's the problem here. This isn't about the future of the province. It's about trying to ensure the future of the Liberal Party, and that's wrong

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