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The report, conducted by the Pembina Institute, looks at the demand for new electricity that will be required to power the literally hundreds of oil and gas, mining and other industrial projects proposed in northern British Columbia, and the reduction in GHG that can be achieved if those projects are powered by wind energy rather than by fossil fuels. The report finds that emissions could be cut significantly – by approximately 3.13 million tonnes of carbon dioxide-equivalent (C02e) per year by 2017, and by 8.86 million tonnes of CO2e per year in 2025 – if those projects are powered by clean energy. The report cites that new industrial developments will have to be connected to renewable, grid-based energy if the province is to meet its legislated targets to reduce its emissions to 45 million tonnes (33 per cent of 2007 levels) by 2020, and 13.5 million tonnes (80 per cent of 2007 levels) or greater reductions by 2050. 

This latest report follows up on a previous report published by CanWEA in October that challenges BC Hydro’s electricity load forecasts, stating that the Crown corporation has underestimated the impact rapid industrialization of the North will have on future electricity demand. CanWEA finds that BC Hydro’s latest load forecast report, released in December of last year, does not take into account the dozens of new mines, several liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals and increased investment in natural gas production in the Northeast that have been announced since then. That report found that additional demand for power will reach nearly 12,000 gigawatt hours of electricity in 2017, and nearly 24,000 gigawatt hours by 2025, compared to BC Hydro’s forecasts of an additional electricity load of only 5,800 gigawatt hours by 2017 and 6,500 gigawatt hours by 2025.

Besides the province’s first two operating commercial wind farms – the Bear Mountain Wind Park near Dawson Creek, and the Dokie Wind Farm near Chetwynd – there are about a dozen other wind energy projects currently various stages of the provincial environmental assessment process, including several proposed in the Peace region. Of course, BC Hydro’s controversial Site C Dam is also under review, and that project has also been cited as necessary to meet industrial load growth in the Northeast. The provincial government has also made reference to a transmission line that would carry electricity generated by the dams on the Peace River to Fort Nelson, specifically to power the expansion of natural gas production in that area, though no specific details or a timeline of that project has been announced yet.

BC Hydro is expected to release an updated load forecast next year as part of its integrated resource plan.

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