Potential Impacts of Run-of-River Power Hydroprojects on Salmonids

Pacific Salmon Foundation release the first independent review of IPP Run-of-River Hydro projects in January on this year.

 

Preface

In British Columbia, our electrical power is typically produced, transmitted, and managed by the BC Hydro and Power Authority (BC Hydro).  In recent decades, alternative energy sources have become increasingly important as BC Hydro looks to meet increased demands, manage their costs, and minimize environmental impacts (water and wildlife, climate change effects, and air quality).  British Columbia’s demand for electricity is currently 57,000 GWh/yr and is expected to increase by 40% over 20 years (www.bchydro.com/irp ).  Presently, our supply of electrical power is provided by 34 BC Hydro facilities and 82 other facilities built and managed by Independent Power Producers (IPPs). 
In 2013, IPPs provide 27% of the current supply produced from a variety of energy sources including 44 nonXstorage hydro projects (23% of IPP power, and 6% of BC’s current demand)1. NonXstorage hydro is otherwise referred to as RunXofXRiver (RoR) Hydro projects.  IPPs may also play an important role in meeting the future energy demand.  BC Hydro has signed Electricity Purchase Agreements (EPAs) involving 45 new IPP facilities that are at varying degrees of development2.  NonXstorage hydro projects could play a significant role in these future projects accounting for 30 projects and providing half of the total projected supply of 6,892 GWh/yr.  For comparison, if constructed, BC Hydro’s Site C project on the Peace River is designed to produce 5,100 GWh/yr.  If the new IPPs plus Site C were developed, in aggregate these projects would supply only half of the expected increase of 40% over our current usage!  Each hydroXelectric project in BC will also be associated with an environmental cost.  The scale of impact can vary greatly from large reservoirs flooding timber and agricultural lands to much smaller IPP projects with much more localized effects (except for the Alcan facility at Kemano, built in 1957).  IPP facilities, however, involve more numerous sites and evoke concerns about their cumulative effects across BC.  And, to get to the focus of this review, projects involving streams and rivers in BC also generate immediate concerns for our newest official symbol of British Columbia, the Pacific salmon.

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RORImpactsOnSalmonids.pdf11.1 MB