Feds pump $83 million into Peace electricity plan

Ottawa is putting up to $83.6 million into the Peace Region Electricity Supply project connecting power from Site C to natural gas developers in the Northeast, it was announced today.

The project will see BC Hydro build two 230-kv power lines between the Site C substation and the existing Groundbirch Substation. Industrial development is driving demand for more power, and it's estimated the supply project will cut emissions by up to 2.6 megatonnes per year, according to a government release.

“Transitioning to cleaner electricity is essential to protecting the environment, creating more sustainable communities and building a clean future for our kids and grandkids," Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi said in a statement.

"This important project will encourage Canadian businesses to transition to renewable energy, boosting the economic growth in the Peace region and promoting a greener way of life for all British Columbians.”

The federal funding is coming through the Investing in Canada Plan. BC Hydro is paying the remaining $205.4 million for the project. Work is already underway, and BC Hydro is aiming to commission the new power lines in the fall of 2021.

Once online, the Peace Region Electricity Supply project will be the second electrification project undertaken by the province in the Peace. A number of natural gas plants now run on electricity, rather than natural gas, thanks to the Dawson Creek-Chetwynd Area Transmission (DCAT) project.

Electrifying the natural gas fields in Northeast B.C. is a critical part of getting a liquefied natural gas industry to fit within the greenhouse gas emission reductions targets set by the B.C. government under its Clean BC plan.

Royal Dutch Shell is the biggest producer in the Groundbirch gas fields, where gas will be shipped through the Coastal GasLink pipeline, under construction, to the LNG Canada project in Kitimat on the West Coast.

Electrification not only reduces CO2 from the burning of natural gas to generate electricity for natural gas power plants, pipelines and other infrastructure, it can also reduce methane emissions, if pneumatic valves are replaced with electric actuators, since the pneumatic vales use gas pressure and release natural gas every time they activate.

“We know the gas industry is a primary driver for electricity demand in the South Peace region," BC Hydro President Chris O’Riley said.

"The PRES project will ensure we can reliably provide electricity to our industrial customers who want to power their facilities with clean energy – significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

— with files from Business in Vancouver

Email Managing Editor Matt Preprost at editor@ahnfsj.ca.

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