Stoney Creek

A part-time hydro electric generating station?

Are recent and renewed Independent Power Producers (IPPs) proposal on Stoney and other Arrow Creeks on anyone’s radar, asks Hans Dummerauf.

Stoney Creek, located seven kilometres north of Fauquier is the subject of a Notice of Intention to Apply for an Investigative Licence on Crown Land by a numbered B.C. company, according to FrontCounter BC Cranbrook.

Company director Dustin Erickson of Surrey, B.C. stated last year that an application to generate enough electrical power to serve approximately 60 homes will likely have only a small environmental impact. The proposal lays claim to 50 hectares of Crown land in order to accommodate a typical dam, intake structure, 1.7 km of 0 .4 m diameter penstock (a sluice that controls water flow), powerhouse, tailrace (where the water flows out of the system), access roads and a very short transmission line.

So what’s the big deal in generating power on a creek without fish or human dependency?

For starters, Stoney Creek only lives throughout freshet, providing a three or four month window of opportunity to harness power, yet a claim has been put forth that the project will supply power for 60 homes. A smallish project for sure but don’t homes typically use power all year long?

The applicant also presents a rather puzzling description with respect to access. Assuming a road is to be built, how in the dickens does one accomplish that on a 40 per cent gradient within a 50 hectare plot that is 1.7 km long? The plot would only be 300 yards wide (50 ha = 0 .5 sq.km.).

Small environmental impact? All roads have an environmental impact, more so for our steep back-country access roads that lend considerable cause to erosion and siltation.

It brings to mind the ongoing siltation of Burton’s spawning grounds, the dusty Burton Flats in spring, the death of Eagle Creek’s spawning grounds.

One may venture to question how many small impacts does it take to make a large one? Apparently the term ‘cumulative effects’ does not exist in our bullish leaders’ vocabulary.

Next, given that all Run-of-the-River developments start with a dam, experience has shown that dams greatly reduce the flow of aquatic nutrients. Praise BC Hydro’s Arrow Fertilization Program, but keep in mind that ten other hydro-electrical development proposals between Fauquier and Halfway are still on the books, not to mention another 60-some proposals throughout the recently targeted Kootenays.

Sadly, the cumulative effects resulting from these and past ventures arguably cannot support the few remaining Arrow fish regardless of future fertilization efforts. No fish, no food; it’s that simple. A bleak outlook for a broken food chain indeed.

Furthermore, that power will be sold to BC Hydro at a rate typically 30 to 50 per cent higher than the rates we presently pay. Who pays for this higher rate?

According to NDP energy critic John Horgan, Hydro was forced to buy private sector power at $68/MWh for a three month period earlier this year when the average purchase price on the open market was approximately $10. This amounted to BC Hydro losing $180 million while spilling hundreds of million cubic feet water over the publicly owned Peace Canyon Dam. Who profits and where are these profits spent? And who buys surplus power during April through July when heating and cooling demands are at their lowest? According to our uninformed Premier, the northern gas companies. Why are rate payers subsidizing the profitable gas industry?

The legal notice posted in the ALNews suggests that if you want more info visit the URL given. The first problem is that the website is not accessible via that URL.

Can we expect the proponent to present their proposal to the local public? Probably not, since water power projects under 50MW are not required to involve the public. You’ll only get a public notice through the newspaper.

In the event one provides written comments (Front Counter BC), it is done so without adequate background information and even so, it is unclear whether comments, submitted past a given deadline or not, are ever considered.

In light of all these proposals, organizations including Nelson’s West Kootenay Eco society, Golden’s Wildsight , Arrow Lakes Environment Stewardship Society, the Council of Canadians, regional directors and Mayors formulated a Regional IPP long-time standing message: NO to all IPPs; and YES to a moratorium on all IPPs until they are regionally planned, environmentally appropriate, acceptable to First Nations without attachment, determined to be in the public’s interest, and publically owned. Apparently that message didn’t get through to 0900024 B.C. LTD. of Surrey, B.C., or Premier Christy Clark. They will now.

Let’s all stop this madness together and take advantage of our shrinking democratic right today by submitting your written comments to: premier@gov.bc.ca or The Honourable Christy Clark, Premier of BC, Box 9041 Station Prov. Govt. Victoria BC … AND FrontCounter BC 1902 Theatre Road Cranbrook BC V1C 7G1 or email to: AuthorizingAgency.Cranbrook@gov.bc.ca For Stoney Crk. refer to MFLNRO File Number 4405121.