Enbridge power projects questioned

A reader questions Enbridge's run of river project proposals.

Editor:

What do McGregor River and Spakwaniko, Fontoniko and Herrick creeks northeast of Prince George have in common with each other, and with the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipelines project?  They are all sites of run of river power projects proposed by the numbered company 8056587 Canada Ltd., which is a subsidiary of Enbridge Inc. who we know to be the proponent of the pipelines project.

News broke of the run of river projects and a power transmission line on December 12.  In a Vancouver Sun article Enbridge spokesman Ivan Giesbrecht was quoted as saying “Enbridge has applied for and received an investigative licence to conduct preliminary assessment work at possible project sites in B.C. and Alberta.”

Mr. Giesbrecht’s statement warranted checking into when I learned details of the run of river applications on the B.C. government Applications and Reasons for Decision web site.  In early January I asked both Enbridge and B.C. government staff for the dates of licence issuance and the name the licences were issued under, for each of the sites.

Government staff said licences had not been issued.  They confirmed 8056587 Canada Inc. had been sent investigative work offers of tenure on August 15, 2013.  They also said as of Jan. 8 the offers had not been signed by the proponent and returned to the government.  That certainly dispelled Mr. Giesbrecht’s claim, in my view.

On Jan. 10 I received a reply to my questions from Enbridge’s Director, Public and Aboriginal Engagement, Michele Perret; she wrote:

“As you are aware, there are many companies involved in this type of work.  We apply for these investigative licenses for competitive reasons, and as such, any specifics related to them are considered proprietary information that we do not discuss publicly. ”

Ms. Perret’s reply had me reflecting once again on the Dec. 12 news article; it had also reported Mr. Giesbrecht as saying there is nothing suspicious in its use of a numbered company.  “Green energy is a growing sector”, Giesbrecht said, “so it’s prudent to avoid tipping off potential competitors.”

To me, both Ms. Perret and Mr. Giesbrecht implied it is Enbridge’s practice to maintain secrecy when it comes to their “green energy” subsidiaries and their activities, and to use numbered companies to do so.  That is not the case in the name of another Enbridge subsidiary, Enbridge Hydropower Holdings Inc.  That naming convention does not leave potential competitors, or the public for that matter, guessing who is behind it or what their business interests are.

The business interests of both 8056587 Canada Inc. and Enbridge Hydropower Holdings Inc. appear to be the same, and I believe it is logical to assume they would have the same potential competitors; yet only 8056587 Canada Inc. exhibits anonymity.  Ms. Perret’s reply and Mr. Giesbrecht’s comments do not, in my opinion, sound trustworthy.

It was also reported in December that Mr. Giesbrecht said the power projects are not being built to power pumps for the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipelines project.  I am not convinced.

My suspicions about 8056587 Canada Inc.’s power projects being linked to the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipelines project have been fuelled by the following glaring similarities between the two:

• According to both Enbridge and government maps the power transmission line for the run of river projects northeast of Prince George will run along the route of the pipelines, passing by one of the construction camps and pipe stockpile areas.

• The power transmission line will connect to BC Hydro’s grid at Bear Lake, the location of a Northern Gateway pipelines project pump station.

In addition to the run of river power projects planned by 8056587 Canada Inc. northeast of Prince George, there are also four run of river projects planned in the Terrace -Kitimat area that show similarities to the pipelines project:

• The Clore River power project’s tunnel (site of intake) is near the confluence of the Clore and Burnie rivers.  So is the eastern portal of the pipelines’ Clore tunnel, work camp, and staging area.

• The Clore power project’s tunnel is stated to be 6400 metres long and approximately 3.7 metres in diameter.  The pipeline’s Clore tunnel is stated to be 6479 metres in length and 5 metres in diameter.

• The power transmission line from the Clore River power project will run east.  There is a pipelines pump station proposed for the Houston area, to the east.

• The power transmission lines from the Bolton and McKay creeks’ power projects will join the BC Hydro grid at Highway 37 between Kitimat and Terrace, and from the Williams Creek project southeast of Terrace.  There is a pipelines pump station proposed between Terrace and Kitimat.

Another similarity regarding all eight run of river power projects and the power transmission line is the date 8056587 Canada Inc. anticipates getting approval for and starting construction, mid-2014, and being operational in 2016.

This coincides with the due date of the federal government decision on and Enbridge Northern Gateway’s anticipated start of construction of their pipelines project.

A number of interveners in the Enbridge Northern Gateway Joint Review Panel hearings, including the Fort St. James Sustainability Group, questioned and challenged Enbridge on the pipelines’ effects on these Chinook, Sockeye, Chum, and Coho salmon-bearing watercourses, or their associated watersheds, and the marine environment.

I cannot help but wonder why Enbridge feels 8056587 Canada Inc. warrants anonymity.  The only conclusion I come to is that they wanted to avoid tipping off the public and First Nations of a link to the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipelines project.

 

Brenda Gouglas

Fort St. James