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Residents offer Site C power alternative

While many critics point out problems with Site C, these two are more focused on alternate solutions. "What we've been trying to do for the past year now, is use something to make a comparison with the Site C project.

While many critics point out problems with Site C, these two are more focused on alternate solutions.

"What we've been trying to do for the past year now, is use something to make a comparison with the Site C project. What do you need that dam for? You need it to make megawatts of power," said Rick Koechl, who presented the alternative of a natural gas plant instead of Site C to produce energy at the Peace River Regional District meeting held on Thursday.

"What we wanted to do is find out is this really the best financially viable way of getting that energy and power or were there other better options."

Koechl, along with Mike Kroecher, has been looking at the financial cost of Site C for just over a year and believes that looking at other options such as a natural gas plant like the Shepard Energy Centre should be considered as another option for receiving power.

While Kroecher was not able to attend the meeting, Koechl made the presentation and explained why they believe natural gas would be a more cost effective way to produce the power.

"One of the options we came across was something called the Shepard Energy Facility. That facility is in southwest Calgary in the present time. It's under construction and it will be slated for early operation in 2015," he said.

The Shepard Energy Centre is going to be built for $1.3 billion and is currently on budget while Site C is anticipated to cost $7.9 billion, according to Koechl.

"There's no guarantee that it's on budget," he said.

Koechl explained they have also been looking at the cost per megawatt between the two options.

"Now we know the capital cost megawatt for megawatt. It turned out to
be about six times higher for the actual Site C project," Koechl explained to the district.

According to calculations that Koechl presented, the cost of per energy unit is much cheaper with the natural gas plant.

"They [BC Hydro] established what it was going to cost per energy unit. They came out with a value and what we discovered is they were saying $110 per megawatt hour. Then we had the numbers from the Shepard Energy facility and discovered low and behold it was well below that, at $30 per megawatt hour. That's less than one third."

While Koechl and Kroecher believe that a natural gas plant like the Shepard Energy Centre is a valid option under the current Clean Energy Act, it's not.

"The Clean Energy Act does not allow fossil fuels to be used to create energy," explained Director Lori Ackerman.

However, Ackerman also added that exceptions have been made before.

"That Clean Energy has been amended to allow the LNG facilities out in Kitimat and Prince Rupert to use natural gas to produce to energy for those facilities," she said.

Both Director Ackerman and Director Mike Bernier explained they felt it was important that concerns and opinions be voiced concerning the topic of Site C.

"This is a first step for them and I do hope they carry it on. I think it's important that the Province understands all options and the financial implications of it," explained Ackerman.

Bernier agreed that it was important.

"We're working hard trying to understand the implications of Site C and what it will have in area and it's great when people like that come forward and have not just a difference in option but a well thought out position," said Bernier.

When asked how he felt the presentation went, Koechl seemed pleased with the results.

"The response seems very positive. I'm glad to see that they would like to maybe see it as a follow up with respect to UBCM [Union of B.C. Municipalities]. My cohort, Mike Kroecher, and I would be happy to do whatever we can to get that message out," he said.

During the lunch break, Director Bruce Christensen looked into the possibility of Koechl being able to address a larger crowd at the North Central Local Government Association.

"There was conversation about whether the alternate to Site C could somehow get onto the NCLGA agenda. There is space for a trade show booth [and] the cost is $500," explained Christensen, adding that currently space was trying to be found on the agenda for Koechl to speak.

The board agreed to phone Koechl and let him know of this opportunity and the cost to see if he'd be interested in that opportunity but did not feel it would be appropriate to make a motion to provide funding.

"The board's not directing him to go, the board just said they'd look into it for him and now we just have to pass this information on," said Bernier.

For Koechl, what is important to him is that people understand that there are other options out there for getting power and just Site C. He explained that he believes a discussion about all the options is needed.

"There has to be a public discussion and what hasn't happened to this day is a public discussion. It's always been one-sided Site C and yet no one's really taken the time to really look at and analyze what are some of the options here."

Koechl added, "We want that megawatt of power that runs hair dryers and lights homes and whatever else, that's what we want but what's the most cost effective and competitive way of getting it?"

BC Hydro was not available for comment.