The Atlantic Power meeting with Premier John Horgan last week in Vancouver had some good news and some bad news, said Mayor Walt Cobb.
Cobb, along with Williams Lake Indian Band Chief Willie Sellars and United Steelworkers Union Local 1-2017 first vice-president Paul French, met with Horgan to push for AP’s electricity purchase agreement renewal.
“They picked a number of biomass plants in B.C. that they are willing to sign contracts with and one of them is Atlantic Power, that’s the good news,” Cobb said. “The bad news is they’ve created a formula that takes the cost of electricity by power generating and figured out how far they are willing to go above that.”
Cobb said he did not know if it will be developed individually for each company or it will be one-size-fits-all.
“They did say, it would be a take it or leave it scenario and that’s my concern.”
Cobb said he asked three times about the environmental impact it could have if Atlantic Power shuts down.
“We have all these trees in the bush that are going to need to have something done with them, but they just kept skirting the issue, suggesting that other things can be produced besides electricity.”
Plants such as Atlantic Power are not set up to produce other things, Cobb added.
“It would mean a capital out lay to produce other profits that may be profitable or may not,” he said.
BC Hydro spokesperson Dave Mosure said BC Hydro has had electricity purchase agreements (EPAs) with biomass energy generators since the 1980s.
“We understand this is an important supplementary revenue for the pulp and paper sector and local economies,” Mosure said, noting BC Hydro currently has agreements with 19 biomass energy projects — seven of which have EPAs that are set to expire in 2022.
As part of the government’s comprehensive review of BC Hydro, BC Hydro has worked with government to develop a strategy to address these projects with expiring EPAs, which includes the development of a Biomass Energy Program, Mosure added.
“This program will be managed by BC Hydro and is designed to be a transitionary measure to allow time for the forestry sector to develop and implement new products that align with the sector’s diversification goals, as well as certain environmental priories of government,” Mosure said. “Details of the program are still being finalized and we anticipate providing more information to qualifying biomass producers in March 2019.”
A spokesperson for the Premier’s office said the meeting with Cobb, French and Sellars touched on housing, economic development opportunities for the Williams Lake Indian Band as well as economic development more broadly in the region.
Atlantic Power business manager Frankie Nelson said the company had no comments at this time.