Electric ideas to be sought

  • Jan. 5, 2007 12:00 p.m.

Islanders will soon have the opportunity to generate ideas about how electricity will be supplied and used here in the future. Angela Griffiths, chief executive of The Sheltair Group, said her company will be holding public consultations in islands communities in February, which will allow islanders to share their ideas and values about how energy could be produced here. The company will also be organizing smaller focus groups of interested community members, and will be consulting regularly with a working group of local elected officials and representatives of hereditary chiefs. The Council of the Haida Nation and BC Hydro hired Vancouver-based Sheltair to develop the community electricity plan. Ms Griffiths said her company’s report should be complete by this October. The report will outline several options for power generation here. BC Hydro will then use the information in the report to issue requests for proposals. “It’s quite a big project,” she said. “We will be looking at what all the feasible options are.” Sheltair will consult with the community to figure out which options islanders prefer, and will also evaluate the energy options by a whole list of criteria, including environmental performance and cost, she said. The federal and provincial governments have already issued a request for proposals to further study tidal power in Masset Inlet, she said. Tidal power technology is being used on the east coast of Canada and is a strong possibility for the islands, although more information is needed. Ms Griffiths said there are several reasons why BC Hydro is interested in different energy options right now. The diesel generating facilities at Masset and Sandspit are around 30 years old and are reaching the end of their useful life. Unless a different way to produce electricity is found, the generators will have to be replaced in the next couple of years. Burning diesel fuel is expensive and creates pollution – more reasons why Hydro is looking for alternatives, she said. Islanders interested in energy issues can get more information about the community electricity plan by calling Sheltair at 1-888-332-9106, or emailing to haidagwaii@sheltair.com. There’s also a website located at www.sheltair.com/haidagwaii which should have dates of events and other information posted. “We’re encouraging people to contact us,” Ms Griffiths said, adding that Sheltair staff are willing to come and talk to groups or make presentations at events.