ATCO looks to plug Progress Energy into grid, cut emissions

Plugging Progress Energy's drilling sites in Pink Mountain into the W.A.C. Bennett Dam would cut down on "decades of greenhouse gas emissions," B.C.'s deputy energy minister says in a letter outlining plans for a new 140-kilometre transmission line in the North Peace. 

Calgary-based ATCO Power is proposing to build the transmission line from the GM Shrum generating station at the Bennett dam to Progress Energy sites north of Fort St. John. Progress is a subsidiary of Malaysian energy giant Petronas, which proposes to build a $36 billion LNG shipping terminal on B.C.'s west coast.  

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It would handle about 100 megawatts of load demand from Progress Energy—roughly the amount of power generated by Dawson Creek's Bear Mountain wind farm. 

A 65-kilometre network of smaller distribution lines would connect eight Progress Energy sites in the area.

Off-grid drilling companies tend to use diesel or their own natural gas to power their operations. Moving those sites onto the electricity grid would prevent 400,000 tonnes of greenhouse gasses a year from entering the atmosphere, a ministry spokesperson wrote in an email—the equivalent of removing 80,000 vehicles from the road.

A similar project, BC Hydro's Dawson Creek-Chetwynd Area Transmission Line, also aims to get drillers on the grid. Oil and gas activities in the Groundbirch area have fueled the "most dramatic single-industry driven regional load growth BC Hydro has ever seen," project spokesperson Lesley Wood said in June.

The deputy minister's office advised the city of Dawson Creek in a letter that the project is seeking exemptions from certain B.C. Utilities Commission regulatory permits.

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