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Clean Energy Breaking into B.C. Market With Remarkable $8.6 Billion in Investments: New Report

Clean power projects, such as run-of-river, thermal, solar and wind operations, are providing about 14 per cent of BC Hydro’s domestic supply of electricity and account for $8.6 billion in capital investment in the province, according to a new report commissioned by Clean Energy BC.
 
The report by MNP, a chartered accountancy and business advisory firm, finds investments have been made throughout the province, including in First Nations communities and areas hit by the recent collapse in global commodity markets.
 
“Clean Energy Projects can help diversify the economies of local communities by providing another source of employment in communities that may have traditionally relied on mining or forestry to provide the majority of local employment,” the report states.
 
Many of the 101 independent power projects currently in operation are owned by First Nations or have benefit or revenue-sharing agreements with local First Nations.

“Over the course of a decade, clean power producers have forged deep relationships with indigenous leaders, innovated made-in-B.C. solutions to protect ecosystems and breathed new life into struggling communities all over the province,” Paul Kariya, Clean Energy B.C. executive director, said in a press release. 

Those spearheading the construction of renewable power projects also tend to spend locally, researchers found.
 
“Approximately 25 per cent of pre-planning and planning spending, approximately 40 to 55 per cent of construction spending and approximately 70 per cent of operational spending occurs within local communities,” according to the report.
 
The largest investment was in northern B.C., with $2.3-billion worth of projects in operation and another $1-billion in development.
 
Clean Energy to Grow Despite Site C Dam 

In an interview with DeSmog Canada, Kariya said power projected to come from Site C is unlikely to affect the growth of small renewable energy projects.
 
“If B.C. is to aggressively electrify, which we must do, we will need as much electricity as we can find,” he said, pointing to recommendations made to the B.C. government from the Climate Leadership Team that are now under consideration.
 
Currently, B.C. Hydro appears to be in an over-supply situation and Site C will add to that, but it should be offset by a provincial move to clean power, said Kariya, who believes the clean power sector will continue to grow.
 
In 2014 Clean Energy B.C. proposed to government that they choose a series of incremental power projects to meet provincial needs instead of the Site C dam.
 
“We gave it our best shot,” Kariya said.
 
However, when government chose Site C, it did not mean smaller projects would not go ahead, he said.
 
“There is still room for both.”
 
The recent decision by the Canadian Wind Energy Association, however, might indicate something different.
 
The wind industry group publicly announced in February that it was closing up shop in B.C., saying they saw more room for opportunity in Alberta and Saskatchewan.
 
“We obviously have limited resources, and we’re going to focus our efforts on those markets which provide the greatest opportunities in the short term to see more wind energy deployed in the country,” association president Robert Hornung told Business in Vancouver.

Hornung added: “While B.C. has tremendous untapped potential for wind energy … it’s also true that, at this time, there’s no vision of short-term opportunities emerging in B.C.”
 
BC Hydro does not anticipate making any new calls for power until 2030. 

George Heyman, the NDP critic for the green economy, told the Georgia Straight that the government is failing to support renewable energy.

“That's a problem for development of jobs and industry in every corner of B.C.,” Heyman said. 

“And it's a problem for British Columbians who think we should be taking advantage of dropping tech prices and advancing technology in both wind and solar and other forms of energy production — instead of throwing all of our eggs into the basket of one big dam in Northeast B.C. with a price tag that's likely to go up steeply in the coming years.”

Clean Energy Development Numbers On the Rise

Despite B.C.’s focus on the development of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry and Site C, there has been a notable increase in clean energy development.
 
Clean energy projects have created a total of 15,970 years of construction employment, with another 4,543 years of employment expected to come with projects in the planning stages, the Clean Energy B.C. report notes.
 
Renewable power companies now employ 641 people, with projects under construction expected to create another 165 jobs.
 
“We’re proud of that work, but our members are now ready to create a new legacy by powering the green economy of the future,” Kariya said.
 
“If the provincial government heeds the advice of its own Climate Leadership Team, then we’re going to need plenty of clean electricity. We’re ready to deliver the goods,” he said.
 
Clean Energy B.C. has 160 members who develop renewable energy projects in cooperation with BC Hydro.

Image: Tommy Clark/Flickr.

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We hear it time and time again:
“These are the stories that need to be told and you are some of the only ones telling them,” John, a new member of The Narwhal, wrote in to say.

Investigating stories others aren’t. Diving deep to find solutions to the climate crisis. Sending journalists to report from remote locations for days and sometimes weeks on end. These are the core tenets of what we do here at The Narwhal. It’s also the kind of work that takes time and resources to pull off.

That might sound obvious, but it’s far from reality in many shrinking and cash-strapped Canadian newsrooms. So what’s The Narwhal’s secret sauce? Thousands of members like John who support our non-profit, ad-free journalism by giving whatever they can afford each month (or year).

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