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June 17,2008 - Tri City News

By Gary McKenna - The Tri-City News - June 17, 2008


Where there’s smoke, there are smokestacks.

But contrary to some media reports earlier this week, there are no plans to increase the amount of smoke puffing out of the Burrard Thermal Generating Station in Port Moody, said a spokesperson for BC Hydro.

Several media outlets reported this week that Hydro is seeking permission to boost the plant’s annual electricity output to six times the current level. The result of such an increase would mean more emissions being pumped into the air from the natural gas that is burned to produce power.

But according to BC Hydro spokesperson Simi Heer, there are no plans to boost output at Burrard Thermal.

In fact, she said the Crown corporation is looking at reducing the plant’s generating potential from 6,000 to 3,000 gigawatt hours. And last year, the facility used just 100 gigawatt hours.

“[Some media reports] have been a little misleading,” she said.

When running at full capacity, Burrard Thermal is Metro Vancouver’s biggest single source of greenhouse gas emissions.

In recent years, the plant has been used to top up the Lower Mainland’s energy supply in peak periods during the summer and winter months, and has rarely exceeded 100 gigawatt hours of production.

The B.C. Energy Plan which was presented last year, said Burrard Thermal is outdated, inefficient and costly to run. Previously, BC Hydro had indicated it wants to close the facility.

But in its report last week, Hydro said it will rely on the facility for the next decade as a backup.

That has Metro Vancouver looking into the plant’s licensing, which has largely flown under the radar because of expectations the facility would be shut down.

Still, Ray Robb, the air-quality district director with Metro Vancouver said he does not expect any major changes in Burrard Thermal’s energy output.

“We expect in terms of operating they will still be around 100 [gigawatt hours],” he said. “As far as we are concerned there is no real change being proposed.”

But Gene Vickers, spokesperson for the BC Citizens for Green Energy, said he believes BC Hydro does intend to ramp up electricity output, despite the Crown corporation’s assertions to the contrary.

He said Hydro needs to say whether it intends to turn to more environmentally harmful ways of producing energy.

“If they are using [Burrard Thermal] as a power source, there are cleaner ways of providing energy to the province,” he said.

The financial impact of a closure at Burrard Thermal would be significant. Port Moody relies on provincial money for hosting the power plant as well as a portion of Terasen’s natural gas sales to Hydro to feed the facility. In 2007 that totalled $1.12 million.

Close to 100 Burrard Thermal employees live in Port Moody.

The Burrard Thermal power generating plant in Port Moody burns natural gas to produce electricity. Last year, the facility produced approximately 100 gigawatt hours of power.
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