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BC Hydro CEO talks Site C, First Nations, and renewable energy at Creating Energy Conference

Edward, Local Journalism Initiative

BC Hydro Chief Executive Officer Chris O’Reilly spoke of the future of renewable energy as the keynote speaker on the first day of the Creating Energy Conference in Fort St. John on May 21st.

According to the event’s website, the three-day event, which is being held at the Ramada Northern Grand Hotel and Conference Centre at 9830 100th Avenue, hopes to bring awareness and evolving information to northern communities about all levels of Pan-Canadian Clean Energy support and production.

The conference focuses on creating a dialogue between industry, Indigenous communities, government, and the community to build a prosperous future for energy.

O’Reilly began by acknowledging BC Hydro’s current role in the wildfire situation in Fort Nelson, saying crews are already at work rebuilding damaged infrastructure. 

He mentioned approximately 100 customers in Fort St. John were disconnected by order of BC Wildfire Service due to the wildfires in Doig River and Fort Nelson.

“This is common when fighting wildfires,” O’Reilly said. “I understand we’ve managed to reconnect them now, which is great.”

O’Reilly also addressed attendees about completing the Site C reservoir, located 14 kilometres southwest of Fort St. John.  

The project is expected to be completed in 2025, with reservoir filling set to begin in August.

“It’s about 86 per cent done,” said O’Reilly. “We’re on track to have six generating units by the end of next year.”

“Construction began in 2015, as many know. It will supply power to about half a million homes, or 1.7 million electric vehicles.”

He also discussed the company’s “Call to Power” initiative, which hopes to generate 3,000 additional gigawatt hours annually from alternative energy sources by fall 2028.

The initiative expands on the company’s Integrated Resource Plan, which sets a goal for the province to have clean energy by 2040. 

O’Reilly says a primary requirement is for First Nations communities to have 25 per cent equity in all bidding projects. 

“This is the first time we’ve done this, so it is pretty significant,” said O’Reilly.

“The key objective of this call is our commitment to achieving meaningful economic reconciliation.”

The conference was organized by the chambers of commerce in Fort St. John, Dawson Creek, Tumbler Ridge, and Chetwynd, along with Energy Safety Canada.  

This week’s conference will conclude with a golf tournament at Lakepoint Golf and Country Club in Charlie Lake on May 24th.

Top image credit: BC Hydro CEO Chris O’Reilly spoke to attendees of the Creating Energy Conference in Fort St. John on May 21st. -Edward Hitchins, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

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