NCES objects to Minister Thomson’s IPP reasoning

I am writing in regard to last week’s letter to the editor by the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, Steve Thomson. It should be noted that the NCES is not opposed to all Independent Power Projects (IPPs) but that we are strongly opposed to the government’s lack of a cumulative impact assessment -- which would not look at each IPP in isolation, but would rather consider the overall impact of these projects cumulatively and at the landscape level.

Editor,

Re: Minister Thomson objects to story, supports IPP projects, Letters, Mar. 30.

I am writing in regard to last week’s letter to the editor by the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, Steve Thomson. It should be noted that the NCES is not opposed to all Independent Power Projects (IPPs) but that we are strongly opposed to the government’s lack of a cumulative impact assessment — which would not look at each IPP in isolation, but would rather consider the overall impact of these projects cumulatively and at the landscape level.

Mr. Thomson has not done his homework in regards to IPPs and especially the proposed Cupola, Ventego, and Alder creek project (all in the Revelstoke area). His letter to the editor was inaccurate and misguided. The North Columbia Environmental Society does not support this IPP project for a number of reasons. A major concern is the fact that communities like Revelstoke and Golden have been removed from the approval process, yet it directly affects us.

We can write letters and submit our views to the Ministry but these projects continue to be approved. In fact only one run-of-river project has been rejected since the 2002 Energy Plan has been in place and that was the Klinaklini river mega-project in the great bear rainforest north of Knight Inlet.

The proposed Cupola, Ventego, and Alder creek project, like most run-of-river projects is in no way green or clean. Aside from the scars left on the landscape from roads and transmission lines the entire watershed will be drastically affected. The most significant impacts will be increased temperature on the creek bed due to the loss of flow from the diversion itself. Also there is concern of siltation occurring, affecting blue-listed westslope cutthroat, and bull and brook trout.

Our government is choosing to privatize and bankrupt BC Hydro and this is not going to make us energy self-sufficient nor in line with their current ‘green energy’ policy. Green energy projects should be done right, and allowing IPPs on 700 creeks and rivers in British Columbia without a comprehensive cumulative impact plan are far from green.

This is the direction the government is going but they are beginning to see more and more opposition to IPP’s emerging. The benefits of these projects are to the private company and not to communities. Aside from the small benefits to locals during the construction period with many project specific contractors coming from elsewhere there usually remains one or two permanent jobs after the project is completed.

The Cupola, Ventego, and Alder creek run-of-river project, which is located only 1.5 kilometres from Glacier National Park boundary is not in the best interest for the residents of Revelstoke, Golden or the CSRD. The current Energy Plan is flawed and until that is dealt with the North Columbia Environment Society calls for a moratorium on all IPP proposals. A time of ‘economic uncertainty’ is no excuse to industrialize pristine watersheds with no comprehensive benefits to local communities.

Michael Watson,

Director, North Columbia Environmental Society