The Peace Region is an important source of electricity for British Columbia. BC Hydro generates nearly 30% of its power through two generating stations on the Peace River, of which the G.M. Shrum station at the W.A.C. Bennett Dam is the largest generating over 13 billion kWh annually. A third generating station on the Peace, commonly referred to as Site C, is being studied and may see realization over the next decade. In addition, BC Hydro is examining the possibilities for generating electricity with wind turbines in the Peace Country.
Williston Lake is the largest reservoir in B.C. It has a surface area of 1,773 square kilometers and took five years to fill. It flooded agricultural land, forests, homes and farms, aboriginal settlements, traplines and hunting areas. The WAC Bennett Dam is the largest electricity source in British Columbia and is the controlling structure for the Reservoir. The dam is 186 metres high and 2,068 metres long along its crest. It provides over 25 percent of the Province’s hydroelectricity. The electricity serves the local area and the coal mines of Tumbler Ridge, but the majority of customers are in the large population centres of the province in southern British Columbia.
The Bennett Dam was planned during the late 1950s and early 1960s. It was built from 1962 to 1965. It was constructed to provide relatively inexpensive electricity for the people and industries of a growing province, especially in the Lower Mainland. Construction was also expected to develop the economy of the Northeast corner of B.C. If a hydroelectric dam had not been built, a coal-fired generating plant probably would have been needed to meet growing demand for electricity.
The Peace River, on which the Bennett Dam sits, carries a large water flow from a drainage basin the size of the province of New Brunswick. The gorge of the Peace River near Hudson’s Hope offered the long drop needed to generate electricity. Just upstream, a wide valley provided a place for a huge reservoir. All of those features made the site ideal for generating large amounts of hydroelectricity. The construction employed 4,800 workers at its peak.
In 1988, the Peace/Williston Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program was established to conserve and enhance fish, wildlife and their habitat in the area.
Oil & Gas
Northeastern BC is part of the geologic hydrocarbon bearing area known as the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin (WCSB). The Basin contains the vast majority of oil, gas and crude bitumen in Canada and is the only current area of BC producing commercial quantities of oil and gas. The petroleum industry in British Columbia has over 4,000 producing oil & gas wells; with direct revenues of $1.2326 billion for the province (2002) and 37,500 direct and indirect jobs.
In September of 2003 EnCana acquired 500,000 net acres of prospective natural gas development lands in the area known as “Cutbank Ridge” located 50 kms south of Dawson Creek. EnCana estimates it will recover more than 4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas from this site.
Renewable energy replaces itself and is usually available in a never-ending supply. Renewable energy comes from the natural flow of sunlight, wind, or water around the Earth. With the help of special collectors, we can capture some of this energy and put it to use in our homes and businesses. As long as sunlight, water and wind continue to flow and trees and other plants continue to grow, we have access to a ready of supply of energy.
Renewable energy comes in many forms. The main sources of renewable energy are: solar energy, wind energy, biomass energy, geothermal energy and moving water.
Why is renewable energy important today?
In the last three years, we have seen large fluctuations in the cost of natural gas, oil, and electricity due to global economics, market deregulation, and political events in some parts of the world. Renewable energy is not subject to sharp price changes because it comes from sources such as sunshine, flowing water, wind, and biological waste, all of which are free. Renewable energy does not create air pollution, global climate changes or harm valuable watersheds. Renewable energy supplies will never run out. While the supplies of coal, oil, and natural gas are limited, sunshine, wind, biomass, and water power are considered almost limitless resources.
Our local energy renewable energy organization is Peace Energy Co-op. Peace Energy was started in 2002 and was incorporated as a cooperative in October 2003.
As its major project, Peace Energy has recently secured the rights to develop a wind park consisting of more than 840 hectares on Bear Mountain on the outskirts of Dawson Creek. Peace Energy has also signed a memorandum of understanding with Aeolis Wind Power Corporation of Sidney, B.C., to partner on the development of the Bear Mountain Project.
For more information or to become a member of Peace Energy, check out their website.