To the Editor:
Your sister paper, called the Pipeline News North, did an excellent article by James Waterman, entitled the “Great Divide – The debate over natural gas and Site C”. In that story Mr Waterman interviewed someone from the Ministry of Energy and received some very odd and contradictory comments in light of recent BC government ads promoting “environmentally friendly natural gas”.
This spokesperson for the Ministry states that natural gas facilities would be “problematic” in BC. To quote his comment: “Constructing a facility the size of …Shepard Energy Centre in BC would pose logistical challenges. Generally speaking, it is preferable to build a power system site close to transmission, pipelines and a demand centre”
This is both hypocritical as well as contradictory. The Site C project will face the identical problems listed above by the Ministry spokesperson. Site C will require hundreds of km of high voltage transmission lines, and its “demand” centre will either be Kitimat (for LNG) or Vancouver, if the power is used for residential purposes.
Another comment made by the Ministry spokesperson states, “it is preferable to build a natural gas power plant near sea level for the sake of combustion efficiency”. This comment reflects a technological ignorance of the 21st century natural gas powered systems. Calgary’s Shepard facility is at 3438 feet above sea level and will achieve 92% efficiency. Clearly, the Ministry is using completely outdated information on the subject.
Finally, the Ministry spokeperson states that “land zoning and site access are also issues”. Once again, there is a built in hypocrisy in this comment. Consider that a natural gas facility would take up only 60 acres of real land in comparison to the 25,000 acres of lost land to the Site C project. The Site C project will require removal of 12,000 acres from the Agricultural Land Reserve and displace hundreds of people. Some families will not be able to “access” their own homes once the reservoir is filled. At present, BC Hydro’s land agents continue to deal with hundreds of private land and access issues. A natural gas system would have a minimal effect (because of it minuscule land base) on any zoning or access issues in comparison to Site C.
Clearly, the Ministry did not do a good job of “fact checking” the subject of the natural gas option. It is also clear that “dinosaurs” are indeed alive and well throughout the Ministry land.