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BC Hydro announces bioenergy call, industry waits for details

BC Hydro has announced phase two of its bioenergy call for power, ten months late and with an unenthusiastic reaction from potential bidders.

Fred Scott, director of business development for Pristine Power called it a "minimal launch." Pristine has a proposal to build 15 gasification plants throughout the interior at a cost of $500 million. When asked if Pristine would bid, Scott said, "we are waiting for Hydro to give us more of the details."

BC Hydro spokesman Dag Sharman said Hydro is working out the details of the call with the ministries of forests and energy, which is targeting 10,000 GW of electricity in two streams; larger-scale producers and community-based projects.

“It definitely took longer than it was originally scheduled, just because it’s a new and unique call,” said Sharman.

Scott said he felt the delay was due to "a number of forestry and First Nations issues that I think have yet to be determined" -- including where the bioenergy tenures would be located.

Phase one of the bioenergy call, issued last year, was aimed at mills already using wood waste for energy. But this phase will include all biomass, including wood from new forest tenure. Last May the government created tenure specifically for bioenergy, and according to forests and range spokesperson Jennifer McLarty, the ministry will "tentatively" put aside up to four million cubic meters of annual allowable cut for the phase two call, for a period of up to 20 years.

Earlier this week, Forests and Range Minister Pat Bell called bioenergy and silviculture the emerging forest industries in B.C. and said the opportunity to harvest beetle-killed trees could extend "well into 2020, 2026."

"We've been telling the government that for a long time," said Scott. "I've seen pine beetle kill that's been standing for 20 years. As long as they're still standing they can be used for fuel."

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