Image from the making of A World to Conserve: The IPP Issue.

A World to Conserve explores IPP issue from backcountry

Revelstoke resident Conor Hurley journeys through the backcountry to explore the issue of independent power producer river energy projects



RTR: Who is Conor Hurley, and what got you interested in the topic of IPPs?

Hurley: Funny question … I am just a guy who likes kicking around in the bush, no matter what season. I guess that is why I came to B.C. and why I’ve stayed. The wilderness embodied by this province is flabbergasting. There is a certain untamed element about B.C. that appealed to me from the very moment I showed up here. The wilderness that exists here is special, not everyone gets to experience such unadulterated beauty on a daily basis; that is why it is up to us to act as stewards of the land and protect it.

What made you decide to make A World to Conserve: The IPP Issue?

When I first learned about IPPs and what they meant for the province of B.C., its citizens and its wilderness, I was astonished.

“How could the decision of whether or not an IPP was appropriate or not be taken out of the hands of the people affected most by it?” was one of the first questions that came to my mind. Ultimately, the math behind it all did not make sense; the cost-benefit ratio of environmental impacts versus power generated for sales to the US made me begin to think IPPs were a raw deal for the people of British Columbia. Why should private companies get to benefit from the exploitation of public resources without really giving back to the people that have to deal with the impact of their projects?

 

PHOTO: Conor Hurley

What did you learn over the course of filming and production?

The extent of this issue is overwhelming. Revelstoke could soon be surrounded by these projects, Begbie Creek is slated for a project and unfortunately many more creeks around here are too. While some projects could potentially make sense, there has been no environmental assessment of the cumulative impact of these projects; power producers have been given a carte blanche to develop the creeks and rivers of B.C. with little or no environmental supervision.

These projects put out their peak power during the spring freshet, a time when B.C. demand for power is lower than in the winter months. I also found there was plenty of room for improvement in our existing dam systems and transmission lines.

How did your views of the IPP situation around Revelstoke and B.C. change over the course of the project?

My view didn’t really change much; if anything, the time I spent doing this project reaffirmed my reasoning for doing it. I had the opportunity to hear an IPP developer speak about his intentions and why he thought IPPs were a good idea. I left the meeting unconvinced. While I agree that we need to explore non-fossil fuel based energy production, I am not convinced that a blanket policy for development of the creeks and rivers of B.C. is a good idea.

I see you managed to get some powder lines in the video. What do you hope viewers will take away from the video?

We sure did. I felt getting amongst it, exploring and documenting the beauty nature beholds would be a way to help others recognize what nature and the natural world has to offer.  In my opinion, there is nothing better than a powder turn, thus to put that feeling in the hands of others would empower them to at least examine this issue.

If not that, my biggest hope would be for people to contrast conservation versus consumption in their own lives. In my own experience, I have found nature has always rendered me far happier than anything material ever has; but that is just my experience.