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Powell River wants protection against bulk energy export from dams

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The City of Powell River is asking for intervenor status in an application by Powell River Energy to export all electricity from its dams to the United States.

A committee of council agreed this week to write the Canada Energy Regulator after learning the CER had asked about whether adequate notice had been given to affected parties.

The city wasn’t aware of the blanket electricity export permit application until it was brought to its attention by the group Energy Democracy for British Columbia (ED4BC).

Mayor Dave Formosa says the city needs to protect the public’s interest, given that the dam site is part of the Catalyst Paper mill site which is their largest taxpayer and makes up to 20 per cent of the city’s budget.

“We need to rely on the tax revenue from this dam. It’s now no longer part of the mill so it will taxed on its own merit. So it could mean a substantial amount of capital,” Formosa said Tuesday.

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But Formosa felt that the city shouldn’t bind the generation company from making money, saying any agreement to sell power should be short term and a guarantee should be in place to make sure power would come back to the former mill site once there’s a new owner.

“I would hate to say that we do not want to see them be able to sell their power because now we’ve got a dead horse sitting there, they have millions of dollars invested, and we should be getting an opportunity to have those taxed fairly and revenues coming into the community,” Formosa said.

The mayor added that the site has been listed by a real estate company as of last Thursday so “the game has begun.”

The city is hoping to see a $900 million plant by Renewable Hydrogen Canada as the future tenant of the site.

Powell River would like to see a trust, similar to the Columbia Basin Trust, where the municipality would share in the hydro revenue.

City councillors heard there have been no hearings set on the energy export application.

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