Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Coal-fired power plants coming to British Columbia

Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours Column

Tuesday January 2, 2007

Black fuel not green


Coal - Environmental enemy No. 1

- The Economist magazine, July 2002

Did you enjoy getting the big lump of coal B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell left in your Christmas stocking over the holidays?

That's right - at a time of rapid climate change, global warming and melting Arctic ice shelves, the B.C. Liberal government is promoting the use of coal - a dirty fuel that powered the Industrial Revolution in the 1800s.

BC Hydro has granted contracts to produce electricity from coal to two corporations which will build plants in Princeton and Tumbler Ridge by 2010.

That's despite a poll commissioned by BC Hydro in 2005 found that 74 per cent of British Columbians oppose coal-fired electricity.

It's part of BC Hydro's call for all-private power - another government policy - that resulted in 38 contracts being awarded to energy companies, with 29 hydro projects, three wind power, two biomass and two waste heat.

But it's the two coal power plants that are the focus of environmental group outrage. Together they could produce as much as 28 per cent of all the new electricity contracted by BC Hydro.

So don't believe what the government and BC Hydro say about green power - their biggest single new source of power is coal and their hype is hot air.

The citizens of Princeton, where the new coal-fired power plant will produce 56 megawatts of electricity by burning coal and wood waste, don't believe it. They are fighting back, with 1,100 letters of protest already signed.

So is the Western Canada Wilderness Committee, which says the two coal power plants would increase B.C.'s greenhouse gas emissions from energy sources by more than 135 per cent - the equivalent of putting 457,000 additional cars on our roads each year.

And the David Suzuki Foundation reports that B.C. government regulations allow those coal power plants to emit 300 times more sulphur dioxides per unit of electricity than the cancelled Sumas 2 gas-fired electricity project would have produced in Washington state.

Ironically, the B.C. government and Environment Minister Barry Penner were praised for opposing Sumas 2, and rightly so, since the American power plant would have made the air in the Fraser Valley even smokier.

But when it comes to coal and burning it in our own province, Campbell and Penner are saying bring it on and keep it coming for 30 years, because that's the length of each of the coal power contracts with BC Hydro.

It's a good deal for Compliance Energy Corporation, which is building the plant in Princeton and AESWapiti Energy Corporation in Tumbler Ridge.

For the rest of us it means increased pollution and more greenhouse gases in "the best place on earth" - unless the B.C. government changes its mind.

Don't hold your breath.


Anonymous said...

Forget any polls, health standards or other energy souces. Gordo wants coal and as long as he runs this place that's what we will get stuck with. The guy has visions now and again and we suffer. It's time he went somewhere else. maybe China where the coal burning ten years ago made it difficult to see across the road. Doesn't he know about the London smog years ago caused by coal burning? One wonders if some personal gain will occur from coal?

Marysue said...

Well, this government is so locked into the '60s--I mean the 1860s--that it will probably decide on "clean" nuclear power plants, if we protest coal. Campbell and his corporate morons will never offer much, except lip service, towards environmental preservation and livelihood sustainability. The Greens, having been co-opted by Alliance-free Conservatives aren't as much Green anymore, and offer even less chance of livelihood sustainability for anybody without a university degree or inherited wealth. We're stuck with the NDP, while longing for the CCF.

Budd Campbell said...

Should coal be part of BC or Canada’s own energy supply sources? When we mine coal here, that counts againt our Kyoto or other GHG targets since it will be burned somewhere. If we consume it here, using the cleanest combustion techniques and carbon capture, we would be contributing nothing whatsoever to the world’s climate change and air pollution problems.

Alberta gets all its electricity from either coal or gas fired thermal plants. Ontario is promising to phase out its coal burning plants and replace them with new nuclear plants. Only here in BC do we hear calls from environmental NGOs for a completely non-conventional energy path, utilizing only conservation, wind, solar and tidal and maybe biomass. All other parts of the nation and indeed the world recognize that nuclear and coal will continue to be major primary energy sources even if green power generation grows explosively.

Once again, BC will home to voices who urge that extreme purity be placed ahead of all other considerations, such as our economic competitiveness and earnings, including wages and average wage levels. That’s because the economic interests who provide the donor support base for the environmental NGOs derive their primary wealth and income from urban and recreational real estate assets rather than producing primary or manufacturing operations..

Last year the BC Govt got $2.7 billion in public revenues from natural gas royalties and from other energy and mineral related taxes. This year the payments may be down somewhat, but will still be over $2 billion. How much of this cash is the BC Govt devoting to alternative fuel research or to research into clean coal and carbon capture? I don’t know for certain, but I think a pretty good guess would be zero dollars and zero - zero cents.

I believe we should be investing in clean coal and carbon capture, and that BC Hydro should also set up a nuclear energy department to start work on providing nuclear options especially for Vancouver Island. A side benefit of an affordable nuclear or coal powered thermal plant on Vancouver Island would be to make expensive wind and tidal projects more affordable by defraying the costs of constructing transmission lines to the Mainland.

Anonymous said...

Bud is somewhat mistaken when he says only in BC do we hear of alternative sources. PEI was totally dependent on electricity produced by diesel generators when we lived there. My God, the monthly bill was staggering. Now they have built wind power generators and soon will be up to I believe 35 percent. Quiet and believe me the winds in PEI are about as constant as the BC model.

My brother in law worked for years in the nuclear power field as a engineer.Hey folks no need for meters, and of course the left over stuff is safe to store. Only takes 1,000 years to become neutral waste. Some how a lot ended up in the Columbia river. They ended up stopping their involvement and ended up doing research on thermal. I do recall the present government showing up, when in opposition at the planned nuclear generation setup at Sedro wooly. A number of US sites have been shut down well before their life expectancy. Gosh nuclear and coil are safe says Bud and others. who do they represent in such arguments? I don't go along with that argument.

Budd Campbell said...

I don't usually reply to Mr/Ms/Miss anonymous, but let me recommend two pieces of reading material. One is the Scientific American issue on Energy which came out this past Sept. It's in their subscriber area now at a price of $7.95 (US):


However, one of the articles in that issue on nuclear energy can still be read free of charge:


Also, Prof Marc Jaccard of SFU has written a book called Sustainable Fossil Fuels. His base line forecast it that in 2100, fossil fuels will still provide 66% or the world's energy, compared to 84% today. The nuclear share would rise from about 2% to 4%, hydropower would fall from 2% to 1%. Modern biomass, wind and other renewables would increase from just under 2% to nearly 14%.

Anonymous said...

One wonder just where Budd gets all his information and so quickly?
Some of us write here so seldom unlike some experts, that we don't get around to showing ourselves as Blogger of almost any subject that comes along. The majority of people in this province are against coal burning. So keep telling yourself you are right and the majority is wrong. If it makes you feel good. I notice Budd does show up in a lot of differnt places so is either very dedicated, has lot fo time to chat or is working for someone. There are a umber of alternate fuel sources if one bothers to go develop them. The fellow mentioned PEI, and that's what they are doing. But Budd must knw best. let's have vote or at least a discussion in the house, that is it Gordon C. bothers to open up the place in the spring.

Budd Campbell said...

One wonder just where Budd gets all his information and so quickly? ...The majority of people in this province are against coal burning. ...

I read the September Scientific American in September. I am presently reading Prof Jaccard's book.

Where do you get your information from, Mr/Ms/Mrs/Miss anonymous?

A majority of the public may well be opposed to coal-fired thermal, but vox populi/vox dei isn't my idea of sound public policy. I guess you could say I am not a good enough BC populist, but frankly pandering to public opinion in this province hasn't always given us good law or public policy.

Anonymous said...

Hey Bill
This is how democracy works. Somebody comes up with a idea and then goes to the people for input. Campbell decides to help out some coal producers and suddenly we are going to start shovelling coal again. Does Gordon ask the voters? of course not. We collectively seem to care less what one university professor writes about coal. The majority are against it so that's how it goes. If you don't like the majority position maybe you might go to Alberta and watch the coal buring there as the tar sands are contaminating a lot of the ground water.

and yes Campbell got re elected but with a great loss of seats. Hint hint. A lot of folks don't like the sort of things he keeps dreaming about. Must be a river or two that can handle another dam? But don't ask BC Hydro or Alcan as they are a bit miffed as is Campbell this week

texasgrand said...

TES, Thermal Energy Storage can eliminate the need for new coal fired power plants in Texas. About half the existing power plants are only used in the heat of the day in summer to generate electricity for air conditioning.

TES solves this air conditioning problem.

Charge a fee for all new construction that does not have a flat peak load profile. Use this money to fund retrofit of existing residences to TES. TES systems are now available for residential systems

oil_sand_man said...

I live in Fort McMurray where I am a member of “Environmentalists for Nuclear Power”
To check out the true cost of nuclear visit
www.cna.ca or www.ecolo.org
I have written a paper called
“Oil Sands Kyoto and the Nuclear Option”. This can be downloaded from the
www.ecolo.org web site from the document section.
Many in the pro nuclear movement like to point out that many anti-nuclear
environmentalist are now pro-nuclear like
Dr Patrick Moore one of the founders of Greenpeace check out www.casenergy.org
and author of the Gaia theory, James Lovelock is pro-nuclear.
The late Bishop Hugh Montefiore one of the founding fathers of “Friends of the Earth”
was anti-nuclear till he realized the greater danger of global warming. He had changed
his mind from anti-nuclear to pro nuclear in 2004. For this change he was rewarded with
expulsion from “Friends of the Earth” he was still working till his death in 2005.
(God bless him)

And Stewart Brand founder of the “Whole Earth Catalog” is now pro-nuclear.
Even British prime minister Tony Blair is pro-nuclear.

Remember the worlds of James Lovelock

“We have so precious little time left”.

If anyone wishes to know all about Nuclear waist check out

The Nuclear Waist Management Organization at


I would recommend people read
the following books.

"High Noon For Natural Gas"
by Juian D.

"Big Coal" by Jiff Goodel

"Coal: A Human Histroy"
by Barrbra Freese

It is in the last book that Barrbra Freese says 30,000 Americans are killed each year
by ultra fine particulates from coal fired plants. (bassed on APT associates study) 50% of the electrical power in the states comes from coal 20% comes from nuclear which generates zero particulates and no GHG. What would be the death toll from Coal
if there was no nuclear in the USA
This would mean that 50+20= 70%
What would be the death toll then??
some say 42,000 per year.
Therefore nuclear saves 12,000 lives per year!!! (42k-30K).

Even in Al Gore's film "An Inconvenient Truth"

Al Gore:
"You can see it in the ice core's
with the naked eye before the clean air act (1972) and after"

Michelle Young said...

I find it VERY INTERESTING that oil_sand_man posted the EXACT same comment (just above) on my blog. Hmmmm..... Also interesting that he is a member of “Environmentalists for Nuclear Power”, given his user name. I'm curious to know which industry pays him, nuclear or oil sand?

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