Saulteau uneasy about wind purchase agreements

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By Christine Rumleskie

 

A local First Nations group is holding its breath as the Province begins to unveil new clean energy projects across B.C.

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Just last week, B.C. Hydro granted Electricity Purchase Agreements to 19 new clean energy projects. The Province also said there were around 28 more projects under consideration, including one called the Hackney Hills Wind Project that would be located in Treaty 8 territory.

Saulteau First Nations Chief Harley Davis is speaking out, claiming the consultation process for the Hackney Hills Wind Project was flawed.

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Chief Davis says there have been numerous spiritual artifacts found on traditional aboriginal land, including a large boulder that appears to have been carved to resemble a human skull.

NDP’s Energy Critic, John Horgan, is questioning the Province’s need to purchase clean energy from privatized projects.

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Horgan points out that last year, the B.C. Utilities Commission dismissed B.C. Hydro’s long-term acquisition plan, indicating B.C. Hydro needed to look harder at conservation and actual need. He says now, less than a year later, B.C. Hydro has authorized 19 projects for purchase agreements anyway.

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Back at the Saulteau First Nation, Chief Davis says sacred land needs to be preserved, meaning more consultation is needed before big decisions are made.

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Last year, the NDP’s Maurine Karagianis introduced a bill that would provide more protection for such cultural sites. That bill was shot down after its first reading. For more on that story, click here.

Horgan says that bill will be reintroduced in the near future.

Energy Minister Blair Lekstrom says the Hackney Hills Wind Project hasn’t yet undergone an official Environmental Assessment. He says the wind project must first get a purchase agreement from B.C. Hydro, and then it will be forwarded to the B.C. Utilities Commission for official assessment.

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