Narrows Inlet Hydro Projects: comments to EAO

This quote is from the info page at Wilderness Committee for putting together a letter to the Environmental Assessment Office regarding the Narrows Inlet Hydro Projects.

Please write now to help put an end to a cluster of proposed private power projects threatening the wild waterways, ecosystems and species around Narrows Inlet, BC.

Formerly known as “Stl’ixwim Renewable Energy”, the proposed Narrows Inlet Hydro Projects consists of five interrelated hydro facilities to be located just 50 kilometres north of Sechelt, BC on the beautiful Sunshine Coast.

The company behind the projects—Renewable Power Corporation (RPC)—has been working on the application since about 2007, and recently partnered with Altaqua Renewable Power Corporation, Pacific Northern Gas (PNG) and the Skookum Power Corporation to help move the application forward.

The Wilderness Committee has been working for years to raise awareness about the destructive impacts of private power projects in BC, and right now, you have an opportunity to help add your voice to the conversation.

BC’s Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) is currently asking for public comments on the proposed Narrows Inlet Hydro Projects. This is your chance to raise your concerns and help stop this environmentally damaging project from proceeding.

Some important points to consider for your comment:

  • The Narrows Inlet Hydro Projects consists of 5 interrelated projects on 4 creeks that are located within a radius of 5 – 8 km, centered at the confluence of Tzoonie River and Tyson Creek. The five hydroelectric projects will have a total nameplate generating capacity of 48 megawatts.
  • There is incomplete knowledge about the damaging impacts of the project on fish. In the proponent’s documents it is repeatedly acknowledged that there is “uncertainty,” that “information is not available,” impacts are “poorly understood” or “unknown,” that there is “a low degree of confidence,” “insufficient information,” and that “habitat use information is unavailable”. A project with this many uncertainties should not proceed.
  • The construction and operation of this cluster of projects would have serious impacts on local wildlife habitat, affecting several species at risk such as grizzly bears, mountain goats and marbled murrelets.
  • Drawing down lakes—at times by over 50 feet—can also release sediment from the lake into downstream waters. This happened at the Tyson Creek project (also owned by RPC), and the proponent acknowledges that the Narrows Inlet project “has the potential to introduce sediment into streams via erosion…and it also introduces a new mechanism not present under natual conditions: the exposure to surface erosion of formerly subaqueous fine-grained sediment during drawdown.” It is well known that sediment and salmon, which live downstream of these projects, don’t mix. BC government scientists assessing the Tyson Creek project noted that with sediment release, “the health of fish or their eggs can be significantly impacted, or they can be injured or killed.”
  • There are significant concerns regarding the gutting of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA) and the Fisheries Act. Combined with dramatic staff cutbacks for DFO officers, there will be far less oversight of projects like the Narrows Inlet proposal. The federal government recently axed the federal oversight of hundreds of projects through CEAA, including independent power projects (IPPs).
  • Although these private power projects are touted as environmentally-sound “green energy”, government documents have shown that there is “considerable non-compliance with managing flows on operating projects,” that “projects are increasingly situated in sensitive fish habitats,” that industry best practices are “inadequate and inappropriately applied,” and government oversight of the industry is deficient. Indeed, a story broken by the Vancouver Sun in March 2012 revealed that “water-flow fluctuations caused by run-of-river hydro projects are killing fish—and the problem is not isolated.”
  • The “gold rush” of energy purchase agreements granted by the provincial government to private producers threatens the financial viability of BC Hydro, forcing ratepayers throughout British Columbia to pay unnecessarily high costs for electricity that the province doesn’t even need.  
  • The Powell River-Sunshine Coast area is ground zero for private hydropower projects. Currently, over 180 private power projects are proposed for development in the area—more than any other region in the province.

If you’d like to learn more about this topic, click here to read WC Policy Director Gwen Barlee’s recent editorial from the Vancouver Sun.

The EAO is also inviting the public to attend two upcoming open houses on the Sunshine Coast: one on Friday, October 12 from 6:30 to 9:30 pm at Egmont Hall (6801 Bathgate Rd.) and another on Saturday, October 13 from 1:00 to 4:00 pm at the Sechelt Band Hall (5532 Xenechinen Ave.)

For more information about the project application and upcoming dates, visit the BC Environmental Assessment Office website. Click here to view the proponent’s executive summary of the Narrows Inlet project.

Please click here to submit your comment to the BC Environmental Assessment Office.

All comments must be received by midnight on October 27, 2012—so please take the time to join us in our efforts to protect Narrows Inlet by submitting your comment today!

Today’s “stone” is Day 278   I wrote my comment,  just followed the links, used the prompts, snap, even if the gov. does not…I care

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