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BC Hydro urges Clark to follow 'self-sufficiency' shift by halting private river projects

The union representing workers at BC Hydro today publicly approved of Premier Christy Clark's downgrading of how much power generation capacity is needed to meet "self-sufficiency" for B.C., saying the old framework was "a significant factor in Hydro's current financial problems."

But the Canadian Office and Professional Employees Union Local 378 wants the B.C. government to go further by cancelling a number of proposed private run-of-river power generation projects.

By setting too high a bar for measuring power self-sufficiency, said COPE's press release, the government "forced BC Hydro to buy expensive power from private producers regardless of the province's need."

COPE 378 President David Black is quoted saying: "We've been drawing attention to this irresponsible policy since the Liberals introduced it in 2007. It's been a significant factor in Hydro's current financial problems, so it's encouraging to see the government at least partly admit they were wrong on this, though it remains to be seen how far away their new policy will actually move."

Private power projects COPE 378 wants cancelled include yet to be built run-of-river plants on the Kokish, Upper Lillooet, Harrison, and Upper Toba. 

The press release also commented on Premier Clark's recent announcement of support for developing Liquified Natural Gas plants in B.C.

"COPE 378 is urging the government and BC Hydro to ensure that LNG companies pay their fair share of the costs they generate," Black is quoted. "We don't want more issues with Hydro's finances as we've seen in the past with their massive subsidies to corporate customers."

"What we're asking is for the government to demonstrate responsibility by showing that BC residents won't be subsidizing large LNG corporations."

David Beers is editor of The Tyee.

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