Opinion

This is a strategy?

Not that I want to rain on premier Christy Clark’s natural gas strategy parade, but I’ve got a few problems with her February 3 announcement and what the Energy ministry was subsequently able to flesh out.

The most obvious problem is with the first of the four prongs of the strategy: the provincial government will find new customers for LNG, particularly in Asia.

That is just so much nonsense.

Does Clark seriously think her government can find buyers that some of the most successful natural gas companies in the world never thought of?

Then we have the Jobs Plan mantra about making sure the skills and training programs match the needs of the LNG sector.

KM LNG is going to give the go ahead to its first phase of its Beese Cove plant in the next month or two and it will be up and running by 2015.

That gives us just three years to get people trained to operate that plant.

Which, I suspect, means the training programs had to be in place yesterday.

Therefore a strategy announcement that did not include an immediate commitment of dollars to training institutions like Kitimat Valley Institute, Northwest Community College. BCIT or wherever frankly isn’t worth the breath expended to make it.

Never mind, there’s always phase two, but that still requires speedy action.

And then there was prong three, the LNG plants would be powered by “clean energy, as much as possible”.

Or “primarily”.

Or “with BC’s natural gas used to support energy reliability if required.”

I’m sorry, that doesn’t sound like a strategy, more wishful thinking without any clear idea of how it is going to be delivered.

On the bright side, what we do know, based on Clark’s earlier statements to the Northern Sentinel and the Energy ministry’s clarifications, is that BC Hydro can meet the power demands of the KM LNG first phase and BC LNG Co-op projects.

As well as phase two of KM LNG providing there are upgrades to the existing Prince George to Terrace transmission lines so long as the company contributes to the cost.

(Incidentally, there is a precedent for that last - companies that would benefit from the Northwest Transmission line were required to come up with substantial bucks for that project.)

Beyond that, there is clearly a problem - the province doesn’t currently have the power needed to run any other LNG plants.

But fear not, Clark said, that power is going to come from new clean/green energy projects.

The BC Energy Act specifies that as wind, tidal, solar, run-of-river and biomass.

Yet the premier didn’t come up with a single example of such a project.

That being the case, and the length of time it takes to get such clean/green projects approved, it seems that as of now natural gas power plants are going to be more than just a back up.

They are going to be vital if the premier’s “new industry” is going to soar to the heights she is predicting.

 

Malcolm Baxter

 

 

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