Legislative committee debate heats up on geothermal

By Fran Yanor / Legislative Reporter


Voicing general support for geothermal power generation, B.C.’s Minister of Energy, Mines, and Petroleum Resources stopped short of specifically endorsing the Canoe Reach Geothermal Project, saying more drilling was needed to substantiate the resource.

“The area is still considered an exploration prospect,” said Minister Bruce Ralston during a legislative committee meeting. “No geothermal resource has been confirmed at this point.”

Located in the Rocky Mountain Trench on the Kinbasket Reservoir, the Canoe Reach Geothermal Project is being developed by Borealis GeoPower, a Calgary-based consulting and geothermal development firm.

“It is an opportunity to create jobs (in) a green, clean technology,” said Prince George-Valemount MLA Shirley Bond, who raised the issue with Ralston during his Ministry’s annual Estimates Committee in Victoria. “It would be used to create a district heating system and reduce things like the use of wood heating and particulate matter.”

Bond asked the Minister if he was an advocate and supporter of geothermal energy in British Columbia and what efforts he had made to advance the geothermal industry in British Columbia.

“We’ve seen other geothermal projects seemingly move through the system much more rapidly than the project in Valemount,” said Bond.

In 2010, Borealis GeoPower won its first permit to explore the Canoe Reach area. Seven years later, the BC Oil and Gas Commission authorized the company to drill four exploration wells.

“One hole has been drilled,” said Ralston. “We await the results of further activity.”

The drilling is done to collect geotechnical and temperature gradient information, according to the commission.

“In this particular project, it falls to the private sector and the company to engage in the exploration,” said Ralston. “But there is nothing but enthusiastic support for geothermal heating as a practice.”

“Enthusiastic support is fine when we talk about it in estimates every single time for years,” said Bond. “It’s time for some action and support for the geothermal sector.”

Fran Yanor / Local Journalism Initiative

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