Christy’s facts and figures are all changed once again and there seem to be an awful lot of “I don’t know – we’re still working on that” comments in this article. FACT – if there are to be 3 LNG plants on-line by 2020, there’s no way Site C will be ready to service them. FACT – for example, “Just in supplying the electricity needs in the first phase of (the first) Kitimat LNG facility, BC Hydro would lose some $90 million per year,” Marvin Shaffer – see rest of article – yet Christy says that she wants to be prudent with taxpayers money…? Please share this with your friends.

Natural gas is the future of British Columbia, but that future hinges on the construction of the controversial Site C hydroelectric project that is so fervently opposed by many Peace Region residents.

That has been the message from Premier Christy Clark as she has been unrolling the Province’s new Natural Gas Strategy since it was unveiled during her visit to BCIT on Feb. 3.

Liquefied natural gas (LNG) is a key element of the strategy, which indicates that there should be one LNG export facility in operation by 2015 and three LNG facilities up and running by 2020. The liquefaction of natural gas at those plants will require a considerable amount of electricity that present energy infrastructure is unable to provide.

“We know that we can power the first one with existing sources of energy,” Clark told Pipeline News North. “And those are clean sources. Because we have a fair amount of IPP (independent power producer) power, but a ton of hydro power.

“We’re very confident that the first one can go ahead with existing sources of power. We can power most of the second one as well. But when we get into the third one, which is likely the proposal from Shell [Canada], and then their second phase of that – I’ll just give you a feel for how big that is: Powering the second phase of the current Shell proposal would require 100 per cent of the power that could be produced by Site C. So, it’s a very energy intensive process.”

Clark admitted that the province’s LNG industry will rely on the yet to be approved Site C project.

“My government is the proponent of Site C,” she continued. “We support it pretty clearly. And I’m hopeful that it will receive the approval required to go ahead.”

The premier also offered harsh criticism for NDP leader Adrian Dix in relation to LNG and Site C.

“He supports this plan to enable the establishment of an entire new industry in British Columbia called liquefied natural gas, but he doesn’t want to do Site C,” said Clark. “Well, he should be honest with people, because if you don’t support Site C, we can’t do the LNG strategy. It can’t happen. So, yes, it will require Site C to go ahead. It will also require, though, a lot more power to be produced from independent power producers.”

NDP energy critic John Horgan charged that the BC Liberals are the ones who are guilty of not being honest with the people of B.C. when it comes to powering LNG facilities and the related impacts on the government’s climate action targets.

“There’s no chance – no chance – that independent power production in the northwest will be able to meet the needs – on a 24/7, twelve-month-a-year basis – for these LNG plants. That means either you’re burning natural gas provided by the owners of the plants or BC Hydro’s going to backstop it. And that means cross-subsidizing BC Hydro rate payers in the interest of industrial users in Kitimat.”

Horgan is concerned about a situation in which the Province will be buying power from IPPs at a rate of $120 per megawatt hour and then selling that power to LNG facilities at a rate of $40 per megawatt hour, forcing ratepayers to make up the difference.

“He’s wrong, as usual,” said Clark. “I don’t understand where the NDP are coming from on this, because they say they support the LNG strategy, but they don’t support IPPs and they don’t support Site C. And so I wonder if they think that we’re going to be able to power these plants by plugging them into an electrical outlet in somebody’s kitchen in Dawson Creek. Honestly.

“We’ve got to be real about this. We are going to need the power from Site C. We’re going to need power from wind farms, from other renewables, and [from] building that clean energy strategy across the province. It’s complicated. But it’s going to mean thousands and thousands of jobs in the province. It’s a new industry.”

As for Horgan’s worries about backstopping the intermittent power provided by wind and run-of-river projects, Clark said that the Province intends to use natural gas to generate electricity.

“They will be reliant in some part on natural gas as a power source,” said Clark. “But our expectation is that that will be a minority of their power source. The vast majority of the power that they’ll be using will be from renewable. But we need to have that back-up for shaping it.”

That won’t sit well with the Coastal First Nations, who were given a mandate to develop a renewable energy plan for the northwest – which is still under consideration – under an agreement with the province. Art Sterritt, Executive Director of the Coastal First Nations, has been adamant that natural gas should not be used for power generation to run LNG plants.

Horgan has voiced concerns that the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with the use of natural gas for power generation could compromise the Province’s climate action goals, insisting that the government should be honest if those objectives are changing as a result of this push to promote LNG.

“If government is shifting policy, then shift policy,” he said. “Don’t try and stand firmly on both islands. If you’re abandoning your climate action targets because the world hasn’t kept pace with what we thought the world would do, for a whole host of reasons, then say so.”

“Well, we’re still working through that,” said Clark, discussing the potential impact of natural gas fuelled power generation on provincial GHG emissions goals. “I mean, we’re still a carbon neutral government – first in North America. We still have the carbon tax – first in North America. We are climate leaders in most of those ways. So, we’re still working through how it will affect our legislated targets.

“But the thing for me is this – if we are shipping liquefied natural gas to China, they are going to use that to displace coal. I mean, that’s one of the things that we’re doing, is making a cleaner world by giving them a new source of energy. In the case of Japan, they’re interested in our natural gas because they want to wean themselves off their reliance on nuclear. So, we’re contributing to a cleaner world overall in a really substantial way by making it possible for us to be able to export natural gas.”

One solution to the GHG problem might be carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects, particularly considering the high carbon dioxide (CO2) content of natural gas found in the Horn River Basin, a prime supplier of methane for LNG. Natural gas in that region tends to be about ten to twelve per cent CO2. Gas sold for common use can’t be more than two per cent CO2.

Mark Jaccard, a Simon Fraser University Professor who also works with the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions, has noted that venting or flaring that unwanted CO2 would automatically make it impossible for the Province to meet its GHG emissions targets. His answer is CCS, but it is an expensive undertaking.

CCS is also mentioned in the Natural Gas Strategy.

“It’s a possible way of meeting [those emissions targets],” said Clark. “But it’s expensive, right? CCS is expensive. And so it’s one of the things that we’re discussing, but we haven’t got a clear picture of how it would work yet.”

“We’re talking to the industry about that now,” she continued. “And so we’re kind of in early stages on some of those discussions.”

“Look – I’m open to all good ideas. And it’s a question of making sure that we manage our budget prudently, because taxpayers aren’t in a position to send us a whole bunch more money. So, that’s the first part. And then second we balance that, our requirement – my requirement – that we be prudent with taxpayers money, with my intent to grow our economy, to protect and create jobs across the province. So, that’s what we’re focused on. So, yes, we’re interested in CCS, but it has to fit into that picture.”

“We’ve got a couple of years of data on what’s going on with CCS in the Peace [Region] and it’s not encouraging based on the information that I’ve seen,” said Horgan. “So, to continue to just say, ‘Oh, yeah, we’re looking at carbon capture and storage – that’s the future.’ Well, if it is, then why are we not aggressively investing in it? Why is the province not taking the steps that we need to take to make sure that it becomes a reality rather than just saying. ‘Yeah, we threw a couple million bucks at it back in 2006-2007. And that’s it. We wash our hands of it and hope that the private sector will take us there.’ You need a regulatory regime to do that. You need to have [research and development] and investment dollars.”

James Waterman is a reporter with Pipeline News North. It is published on the last Friday of every month and is also available at