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Plutonic Tops List of Power Firms Donating to Libs

Of the 14 successful firms in BC Hydro's latest call for power, 10 have made contributions to the Liberals totaling nearly $385,000.

By Will McMartin 12 Apr 2010 | TheTyee.ca

Tyee contributing editor Will McMartin is a veteran political advisor and analyst.

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Environment Minister Barry Penner and officials at a Harrison Lake run of river project.

Nearly all of the independent power producers (IPPs) selected recently by BC Hydro for long-term Energy Purchase Agreements (EPAs) have made sizeable financial donations to Gordon Campbell's BC Liberal party.

An analysis of Elections BC records by The Tyee reveals that 10 of the 14 lucky companies -- or their corporate parents or subsidiaries, or officers, directors or significant shareholders -- given EPAs on March 11 and 31 have made at least 165 gifts of cash to the BC Liberals since 2005.

The total value of those contributions: nearly $385,000.

Kwagis Power LP

Kwagis Power Limited Partnership is one of the fortunate companies BC Hydro chose for a 40-year EPA. The company intends to build a 45-megawatt, run-of-river hydroelectric facility on Vancouver Island's Kokish River.

Brookfield Renewable Power Inc., headquartered in Toronto, is one of the Kwagis partners, and the 'Namgis First Nation of Alert Bay is the other.

Brookfield Renewable Power is a wholly owned subsidiary of Brookfield Asset Management, Canada's 30th-largest public company as ranked by market capitalization.

In 2006, Brookfield Asset Management gave the BC Liberals just $1,400, but the following year bumped that up to two $25,000 contributions.

And last year, mere weeks before the start of B.C.'s 39th general election campaign, Brookfield gave Gordon Campbell's party a whopping $50,000 cheque.

The total since 2005 -- $101,400.

Cloudworks Energy

Cloudworks Energy Inc. is not quite in the same league as Brookfield Asset Management when it comes to financial strength, but the Vancouver-based company nonetheless has done its part to assist Campbell's Liberals stay in office.

Cloudworks gave the BC Liberals $1,000 in 2007, and followed that with another contribution of $1,200 in 2008.

And in early 2009, in anticipation of the May general election, the company made two separate donations to the governing party: the first was for $5,000, and the second for $10,000.

The total since 2005 -- $17,200.

On March 11, BC Hydro awarded Cloudworks Energy three separate EPAs for run-of-river hydroelectric projects near Mission and Harrison Lake.

Sea Breeze

Sea Breeze Energy Inc., a subsidiary of Vancouver-based Sea Breeze Power Corp., was selected for a 20-year BC Hydro EPA. The company intends to build a wind-farm at Vancouver Island's Knob Hill, near Port Hardy.

In 2005, when Gordon Campbell's BC Liberals won re-election to government, Sea Breeze Power gave the party eight donations totaling $5,079.

The company skipped 2006 but made three donations in each of 2007 (for $1,649) and 2008 ($2,050). Four gifts totaling $1,975 were sent to Campbell's party last year.

The total since 2005 -- $10,753.

Run of River Power

Run of River Power Inc. of Vancouver owns and operates a run-of-river hydroelectric operation at Brandywine Creek, outside Whistler. The facility was built earlier this decade by Ledcor Power Inc.

On March 31, Run of River won another BC Hydro EPA, this one for a 25-megawatt run-of-river hydroelectric facility on the Mamquam River near Squamish.

In 2007 the company sent the BC Liberals a cheque for $2,400, followed the next year by another for $3,500.

Last year, in the period leading up to the provincial-general election, Run of River gave the Campbell Liberals three donations adding up to $1,850.

The total since 2005 -- $7,750.

Creek Power

In addition to building run-of-river hydroelectric operations for others, Alberta's Ledcor Power Inc. also participates in their own projects.

One such endeavour is Creek Power Inc., in which Ledcor has partnered with Quebec's Innergex Power Income Fund. On March 11, BC Hydro gave Creek Power three EPAs for run-of-river projects in the Pemberton area.

Innergex, which already owns and operates a run-of-river project on Rutherford Creek, also outside Pemberton, has given the BC Liberals two election-year donations. The first, in 2005, was for $1,000, while the second, in 2009, was for $1,500.

The total since 2005 -- $2,500.

Ledcor itself has been thoughtfully generous to Gordon Campbell's BC Liberal party.

Four related entities -- Ledcor Power Group Ltd., Ledcor Power Inc., Ledcor CMI Ltd. and Ledcor Construction Limited -- favoured B.C.'s governing party with 19 donations over the last four years.

The total since 2005 -- $32,500.

CP Renewable Energy

EPCOR Utilities is another Alberta-based company seeking liquid gold in British Columbia. The company has a wholly owned subsidiary, Capital Power Corporation, which in turns owns CP Renewable Energy (B.C.) Ltd. Partnership.

On March 11, the latter entity won an EPA for a massive, 142-megawatt wind-farm outside Tumbler Ridge in northeastern B.C.

EPCOR bestowed 21 offerings on the BC Liberals over the last four years.

Three donations totaling $5,337 were made in 2005, followed by two more for $2,500 in 2006, and then three for $6,000 in 2007.

The paced quickened two years ago as EPCOR sent five cheques totaling $8,800 to the Campbell Liberals. And last year, leading up to the general election, the utility coughed up eight more that added up to $9,576.

The total since 2005 -- $32,213.

Finavera Renewables

EPCOR-Capital Power-CP Renewable is not alone in seeking to capitalize on wind energy in B.C.'s Peace River country.

On March 11, Vancouver-based Finavera Renewables Inc. was selected by BC Hydro to build four new wind-farms to be built outside Tumbler Ridge and Chetwynd.

The company, unable to generate any revenues since its inception four years ago (and with accumulated losses of $41 million on its balance sheet), cannot be found on lists of donors to the BC Liberal party from 2005 to the present.

But Hein Poulus, who is both chair of Finavera and a significant shareholder in the company -- as well as a prominent Vancouver lawyer with the prestigious firm of Stikeman Elliott -- has steered numerous donations to B.C.'s governing party.

In 2005, Hein Poulus Law Corporation sent $500 to Gordon Campbell's BC Liberal party, and followed that in 2008 with two donations totaling $600.

On March 25, 2009, with the election fast approaching, the Poulus law corporation gave the governing party a cheque for $1,700, and on the same date the Queens' Counsel added a personal gift of $1,100.

Stikeman Elliott also has made noteworthy donations to the Campbell Liberals. Two Stikeman partners' names appear on all of those offerings, Hein Poulus and Ross Macdonald.

In 2005, leading up to B.C.'s 38th general election, the law firm wrote three cheques for the governing party, in amounts of $2,990, $5,000 and $10,000. At the same time, Poulus and Macdonald also dispatched a gift of $500 for Wally Oppal, the BC Liberal candidate in Vancouver-Fraserview, and later the province's attorney general.

Stikeman Elliott later provided the victorious BC Liberals with another $350 following the election, and in 2008 gave Gordon Campbell's party another $3,500.

The total since 2005 -- $26,240.

AltaGas and ENMAX/Syntaris

Ledcor and EPCOR are just two of four Alberta-based companies to win BC Hydro EPAs in the last month.

On March 31, AltaGas Ltd. was selected to build and operate an 11-megawatt, waste heat facility near Sparwood, while ENMAX Syntaris Bid Corp. won approval for a 15-megawatt, run-of-river project on Culliton Creek, located in the Squamish area.

Last year, on the eve of the provincial election, AltaGas sent $3,000 to the BC Liberals. It appears to be the company's only donation.

The total since 2005 -- $3,000.

ENMAX-Syntaris, then operating under the name Max Pacific Power Inc., made a single $1,000 donation to the BC Liberals in 2007.

The total since 2005 -- $1,000.

Plutonic Power

Plutonic Power Corporation is one of British Columbia's more-prominent -- and controversial -- independent power producers.

On March 11, Vancouver-based Plutonic, along with partner GE Energy Financial Services Company, won an EPA for a 124-megawatt run-of-river hydroelectric project on the Upper Toba River near Powell River.

Through two entities -- Plutonic Power Corp. and Plutonic Power Inc. -- the company has made at least 30 donations to the BC Liberals in the last four years.

A single offering of $598 was sent to the governing party in 2006, followed by another six totaling $11,550 a year later.

Then came 15 gifts -- with a combined value of $39,758 -- in 2008, followed by another seven -- with a combined value of $35,300 -- forwarded in 2009.

The latter year also saw a post-election Plutonic donation to BC Liberal MLA Iain Black in his riding of Port Moody-Coquitlam. The $1,000 gift was made on June 12, two days after Black was named minister of small business, technology and economic development.

More from Plutonic

Donald McInness, Plutonic's vice-chair and CEO, also has made numerous personal financial donations to B.C.'s governing party.

(McInness, appearing on CKNW's Bill Good Show in April 2009, stoutly denied that his company had made financial donations to the BC Liberals. Questioned later by The Tyee's Colleen Kimmett as to why Elections BC records showed otherwise, the Plutonic boss offered: "I don't consider that to be donations, that's buying a seat at a table.")

McInnes personally sent a single donation for $3,500 to Gordon Campbell's party in 2006, then added four more totaling $4,755 in 2007, gave another three adding up to $11,500 in 2008, and offered two more for $11,000 in 2009.

He also sent $500 to Ralph Sultan, BC Liberal MLA in West Vancouver-Capilano, for the latter's 2005 re-election campaign.

In addition, McInnes forwarded four more donations to the BC Liberals through another company, Western Keltic Mines Inc. There were two such offerings in 2006 (adding up to $2,020), plus another two in 2007 ($1,020).

And still more from Plutonic

Numerous other Plutonic directors, officers and employees similarly have made financial contributions to Gordon Campbell's BC Liberals in recent years.

From the board of directors, Walter Segsworth gave $500 in 2008, Michael Volker provided $600 in 2007 and Stuart Angus sent donations of $1,000 in both 2006 and 2009.

Four other company directors -- Grigor Cook, Bruce Ripley, Paul Sweeney and Peter Wong -- offered $299 each on the same date: May 30, 2007. The contributions likely were for a BC Liberal fundraising event.

There were additional financial gifts sent by the company's senior management. Dave Cyr, a former BC Liberal ministerial aide, now Plutonic's director of First Nations partnerships and corporate relations, gave three donations totaling $905 in 2008. Deborah Fulcher made two contributions adding up to $800 in 2009.

At least two other ex-BC Liberal political assistants also have found post-government employment at Plutonic. Since 2005, Tom Syer has delivered a total of $4,500 to the governing party, while Bob Poore has offered $2,379.

The total for Plutonic, related companies, directors and officers since 2005 -- $134,881.

Plutonic's partner

Plutonic's partner in the Upper Toba Valley project, GE Energy Financial Services Company, is owned by General Electric Company.

Between 2006 and 2009, General Electric Canada sent six donations to Gordon Campbell's BC Liberals, ranging in size from $500 to $3,500.

The total since 2005 -- $15,470.

The cumulative total -- almost $385,000

Just four of the 14 companies to recently capture at least one of BC Hydro's Electricity Purchase Agreements appear not to have made a cash donation to the province's governing party in the period 2005 to 2009.

Those companies are C-Free Power Corp., NI Hydro Holding Corp. (Stlixwim Partnership and Stlixwim First Project Corp.), Selkirk Power Company Ltd. and Swift Power Corp.

The remaining 10 companies -- plus their subsidiaries or affiliates, officers, directors and employees -- that recently struck gold with the acquisition of at least one long-term BC Hydro EPA, made financial contributions to the BC Liberals that add up to $384,907.  [Tyee]

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