FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Prime Minister Trudeau has reportedly left the door open to federal government support of a new grid to send BC electricity into Alberta.
The BC government has initiated discussion on what is estimated to be about a billion dollar project to be the jointly funded by the two provinces and Ottawa.
The Vancouver Sun has published a story this week saying the Prime Minister has said his government will take a close look at the proposal, which carries a BC objective of improving the economics of the Site-C dam project, while at the same time helping Alberta reduce its dependence on coal and natural gas.
According to the Sun report Mr. Trudeau said, during his visit to Vancouver last week, that anything to get emissions down, by emphasizing hydroelectricity and creating opportunities to get off coal, and where possible, to also get off natural gas is, “Good for the country…good for our emissions profile…and good for the economy we need to build”.
However, the Alberta government reportedly expressed an interest in the power line proposal, only if the BC government is prepared to show more support for increased pipeline shipment of diluted oil sands bitumen to the West Coast.
The story also draws into question the economics of an expanded BC to Alberta transmission system with the Canadian Research Institute on record as stating this would be a much more expensive option for the Alberta government than is natural gas, to transmit electricity to power the oil sands sector.
It also cited the high forecast electricity demand growth in BC, as making it unclear if BC hydropower options would be able to export large volumes of base load electricity into oil sands operations in the next decade.
Meantime, the chair of the now defunct federal-provincial panel, which assessed the Site-C project, believes BC power would cost Alberta more than twice what it now pays producing power with natural gas and its own renewable sources.
Therefore the Sun quotes Harry Swain as saying, “The Alberta market is not for real.”
However, the BC government counters, that the power line proposal would reduce Alberta greenhouse gas emissions by three to six times helping its NDP government make a stronger world-wide case it is serious about its climate plan.