Looking for Tenders

Article

Spreading the benefits of energy development

0 53 Home

by Journal Of Commerce

Private investors, public crown corporations, local communities and the environment don’t have to be in conflict when it comes to new power development. The Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) and Columbia Power Corporation (CPC) in B.C.'s Kootenay region provide an example of success at bringing together diverse interests to achieve common goals.
Tom Sigurdson
Tom Sigurdson

OPINION

Private investors, public crown corporations, local communities and the environment don’t have to be in conflict when it comes to new power development.

The Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) and Columbia Power Corporation (CPC) in B.C.’s Kootenay region provide an example of success at bringing together diverse interests to achieve common goals.

Original development of hydro power on the Columbia River took place under the auspices of the Columbia River Treaty in 1964.

The treaty was an international accord that met the needs of senior governments, but ignored the impact on local residents and communities.

More than 2,300 people were displaced by flooding, First Nations’ burial sites were submerged, wildlife was lost by fluctuations in water levels and human health continues to be impacted by dust storms. In 1994, after 30 years of exclusion, and just as the first part of the treaty was to expire, Kootenay residents pressured the province for a greater say in the future development of hydro projects.

Thus, two entities, the Columbia Basin Trust and the Columbia Power Corporation were set up to manage and administer future development of hydro-electricity.

The CBT resembles a council of regional governments to ensure that new power developments meet community needs.

The CPC is a crown corporation that resembles a mini-BC Hydro.

Today, the CBT and CPC are mandated to develop and manage hydro-electric power facilities to meet the social, economic and environmental, needs of the Kootenay region.

The Waneta Expansion is South of Trail B.C. It is the most recent project of the CBT/CPC and is a partnership with Fortis Inc.

It will add 335 MW of new capacity.

More than $900 million will be invested in a new powerhouse over the next four years.

Water for the new generation facility will come from the existing Waneta dam, using seasonal surpluses that would have otherwise been spilled.

This project will provide more than 400 construction jobs.

Stable labour relations are guaranteed, as worker’s wages, benefits, grievance procedures and a host of other commitments including training and equity hiring are provided for under the framework of the Columbia Hydro Constructors – Allied Hydro Council (CHC-AHC) agreement.

Contrary to popular misconceptions, the CHC-AHC agreement does not restrict non-union employers from bidding and winning bids on the project.

In fact the general contractor for the job, SNC-Lavalin, is non-union.

A huge benefit of the agreement is the leveling of the playing field for all contractors by taking wages and benefits out of the tender bid equation.

As a result of the CHC-AHC agreements, it is expected that more than $200 million will be paid to workers on the project.

These wage and benefit packages will be ploughed right back into the local economy, as 85 per cent of the workforce will come from the Kootenay region.

Environmental benefits expected from the Waneta Expansion include that the new hydroelectricity will reduce greenhouse gas emissions that would otherwise be generated by the burning of fossil fuels.

Fish species are expected to benefit from a better habitat upstream and fish mortality will drop as fewer fish pass over the spillway.

Also there will be a reduction of the total gas pressure downstream by passing water through a turbine, instead of over the spillway.

The Columbia Basin Trust and Columbia Power have gone a long way to remediate the tragic impacts of the Columbia River Treaty.

The CHC-AHC agreement has brought stability, and trades training opportunities for First Nations, women and local residents.

The lessons of the Columbia River Treaty go beyond the Kootenays.

Why not use CHC-AHC styled agreements to bring the same benefits to every region of the province?

Tom Sigurdson in the new executive director of the British Columbia/Yukon Territory Building and Construction Trades Council. Send comments or questions to editor@journalofcommerce.com.

Leave a comment

Or register to be able to comment.

Copyright ConstructConnect TM. All rights reserved. "ConstructConnect" is a dba for CMD Holdings.
The following rules apply to the use of this site:
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement