B.C. to build 3 liquefied natural gas plants by 2020
Dirk Meissner , The Canadian Press
Published Friday, February 3, 2012 7:21PM PST
Premier Christy Clark is poised to water down British Columbia's energy reserves and environmental policies to build three liquefied natural gas plants by 2020.
Clark was at Burnaby's BCIT campus Friday to support plans to pipe natural gas from northeast B.C. to the north coast at Kitimat, where it will be frozen and placed on tankers bound for Asia.
The LNG export plans are major components of Clark's B.C. Jobs Plan, but the province has to move quickly because it faces competition from Australia and Qatar for the Asian markets.
At a briefing prior to the official announcement, government officials said Clark will introduce changes to provincial energy self-sufficiency policies to make room for the LNG plants, which require enormous amounts of energy to operate.
Clark is slated to confirm that the third LNG plant, projected to be in operation by 2020, will be partially powered by natural gas, which emits greenhouse gases that will test B.C.'s law to cut greenhouse gas emissions by one-third by 2020.
Clark has often said the LNG developments offer the province a generational opportunity to create jobs and revenues, and it is up to the government to find green solutions.
B.C. has vast natural gas reserves in the northeast corner of the province and even though it sells for about $3 a unit here, Asian markets are willing to pay at least three-times that price.
The energy self-sufficiency changes involve the government moving to a policy of average water supply as opposed to the current policy that includes a critical water threshold.
The critical water policy ensures that B.C. has enough water supply in its dams in the case of a 100-year drought. Average water supply keeps enough water in storage to handle most drought years.
Government officials said earlier the government would import power if it is caught in an historic drought situation.
Energy and Mines Minister Rich Coleman said late last year that one of the three proposed liquefied natural gas plants in Kitimat will be powered with greenhouse gas-emitting natural gas.
He said the government is looking to minimize the potential harm from burning natural gas, possibly storing it underground.
But Simon Fraser University climate scientist Mark Jaccard -- a champion of the Liberal government's climate-change fighting agenda under former premier Gordon Campbell -- said earlier the current Liberal government needs to tell British Columbians its promise of jobs today could threaten future generations.
Clark said last year she doesn't want to be known as the premier who gives up leadership on the environment, but the promise of jobs and revenues is testing her green resolve.
Coleman said the government is also looking at wind and run-of-river power opportunities for the LNG plants.
The minister said earlier that the government is negotiating energy prices with the LNG developers, but he said they won't be getting power at rates cheaper than current hydro customers.