Lobbying for natural gas use in power generation in B.C. too expensive and time-consuming, report to regional district board concludes

In a report submitted to the regional district board of directors last Thursday, Fred Banham, chief administrative officer of the Peace River Regional District, recommended not proceeding with an initiative to amend the provincial Clean Energy Act to allow for the burning of natural gas for power generation “because the political debate will be extremely arduous, expensive and time consuming with a low probability for success.”

Last month, regional district staff were instructed to investigate how that iniative might be accomplished following a motion from Chetwynd director Evan Saugstad that was seconded by Area C director Arthur Hadland. Saugstad said at the time of making that motion that he believed it was hypocritical for the provincial government to actively promote natural gas exports to overseas markets while not utilizing it for domestic power generation.

However, in his report, Banham states that the challenge is not so much a legislative one as it is a political and ideological one.

“The challenge is much more than just a legislative amendment change to the Clean Energy Act, allowing the burning of fossil fuels to produce electricity; it is a philosophical, ideological change in the accepted thinking about how and where electrical energy of the future is going to be produced,” he wrote.

He said changing that ideology would require an extensive lobbying effort of both the provincial and federal governments to get them to reverse a trend towards developing renewable sources to meet future energy demands. He said, specifically, the regional district would have to create a logical and scientifically acceptable argument to address issues with natural gas power generation such as greenhouse gas emissions, long-term supply, capital and operational costs versus other sources of power, and the effect of world market gas pricing on the cost to consumers.

“While this strategy will bring to light the Regional District’s desire for the Province to use locally produced natural gas resources, it is not likely the strategy will discover new science that justifies the investment of significant capital dollars into time limited (non-renewable) and operationally expensive electrical power plants,” states Banham.

He concludes that a significant amount of time and money would have to be invested in a lobbying effort that would likely have little chance of success. His full report is available online at http://www.prrd.bc.ca/board/agendas/2011/2011-20 4864684524/AGENDA.html.

More on this story will be posted tomorrow on mile0city.ca and energeticcity.ca.  

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