Plutonic's EIS will be delayed until early 2010
By Dan MacLennan
It's going to take longer than first thought for Plutonic Power to submit an environmental impact statement (EIS) for its massive Bute Inlet Hydroelectric proposal.
Plutonic must submit an EIS to the federal and provincial environmental review agencies laying out anticipated impacts and mitigation requirements stemming from the 1,027 megawatt project proposing to use 17 run-of-river generating plants on the Homathco, Southgate and Orford rivers feeding Bute Inlet. Plutonic had originally suggested the EIS would be ready by the fall, but that timeline changed in the latest Plutonic newsletter.
"This is a great opportunity to address concerns that have been raised about the Bute Inlet Project, as review at this level is comprehensive and extensive, with public hearings," CEO Donald McInnes said. "We look forward to this process which will officially begin when re submit our environmental impact statement guidelines to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency early in 2010."
Plutonic spokesperson, Elisha McCallum, admitted Friday that early 2010 is considerably later than Plutonic had planned.
"We made the decision to extend our submission because we need some more time to do some more study work," she told the Courier-Islander.
"Bute is a very complicated area in terms of multi-use, looking at what's being used in the valley now, what could potentially be used in the future, what is all the flora and fauna that is going on in that area, so we need more time to do more study work, a longer period of time to extend that study."
She said Plutonic had left its earlier EIS submission estimate rather loose "because we wanted to see where we had gotten with our studies to date."
"If we want to be very clear and comprehensive on the work going forward, we need some more time to add some more data to that mix," she said. "So if people ask us 'how long have you been studying Dolly Varden in this area' we can be definitive and say 'it's been this amount of time and we believe that that's the right amount of time to depict the historical information that we've got.'"
The political ground shifted beneath independent power producers (IPPs) late last month when the BC Utilities Commission (BCUC) refused to endorse B.C. Hydro's long-term call for 3,000 gigawatts of power from public and independent power producers because it was not "in the public interest."
The commission took issue with several areas of BC Hydro's plan, including whether they met the provincial government's requirement to meet self-sufficiency in electricity by 2016. BC Hydro has gone back to the drawing board to come up with a new Long Term Acquisition Plan (LTAP).
McCallum said the EIS decision was not related in any way to the BCUC decision.
"It certainly doesn't have anything to do with any of the decisions that have happened recently, definitely no," she said.
She said the later EIS release date isn't a problem for Plutonic.
"It doesn't impact us negatively in any way," she said.
"We're obviously still waiting for the call results from BC Hydro, so until we have a bunch of these decisions all lining up, we don't have an idea of timeline so we're making it fluid at this point.
"Given the LTAP decision, we're just sort of waiting to see which direction BC Hydro's going to go. We would be extremely optimistic in thinking that the call would move forward, but we don't know yet, so we're waiting to see what's happening on that front," she added.
But opponents say the BCUC decision clearly challenges the validity of BC Hydro's June 2008 call for clean power generation proposals.
Plutonic and other proponents were hoping BC Hydro would receive BCUC LTAP approval and name the successful proponents at the same time.
© Copyright (c) Canwest News ServicePosted by Arthur Caldicott on 12 Aug 2009