Hydro power eyed for Woodfibre LNG

Rebecca Aldous/Squamish Chief / Staff writer
January 7, 2014 01:00 AM

Proponents of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant slated for Howe Sound are looking to make the facility B.C.'s "poster child."

But they need Squamish residents' help to get Ottawa and Victoria on board, says the vice president of Woodfibre Natural Gas.

Last month Byng Giraud told District of Squamish council that the company is creating three versions of the LNG export facility, each using different equipment and configurations. Once drafted, most likely by February, the $1.7 billion proposals will be displayed at a series of open houses in Squamish.

One option is to operate the processing, storage and export facility on electricity, rather than burning LNG for power. That is a cleaner, greener option, Giraud said, noting a hydro-based facility would emit fewer pollutants than a large housing subdivision. But proponents require backing from other regulatory bodies for the idea to fly.

"We'll need the community's help," Giraud told The Chief.

The 89-hectare site is the perfect location for the facility that would ultimately export 2.1 million tonnes of liquefied gas per year, he said. Proponents anticipate spending up to $10 million on environmental remediation of the former Woodfibre pulp mill site. Some of the required infrastructure already exists, such as Fortis B.C.'s 23-year-old pipeline that runs past the site. The facility will draw a percentage of natural gas from the main that serves Squamish and Vancouver Island. The property is also a deep water port, allowing the anticipated three ships per month to dock, Giraud said.

"The facility will be putting nothing into the water," he said, noting proponents have opted for air rather than water cooling of the plant.

The LNG plant's proponents did sit down with Sea to Sky Gondola officials, Giraud said. He estimates the facility will require a third of the site, leaving the rest for landscaping.

"There is no reason it couldn't be hidden," he said, adding proponents hope to put together a community advisory group to provide input on issues such as what should be done with the remaining land.

Asia's need for LNG is anticipated to increase by 5 per cent by 2030. China's power grid is largely based on coal burning, resulting in air population. The People's Republic is looking at natural gas as a cleaner energy solution. Moving from a coal to natural gas power generating facility is the equivalent of taking 557,000 cars off the road, Giraud said.

Squamish Coun. Bryan Raiser grilled Giraud on Squamish tax benefits from the proposal. The tax rate will depend on a number of factors, including what's actually built and how B.C. Assessment values the land and improvements, Giraud replied. But with the project's cost sitting at $1.7 billion, it's not going to be small potatoes, he noted.

"I believe we will be a significant taxpayer," Giraud said, adding proponents hope to have the facility operating by 2017.

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