The Poster Child for Unsustainable River Diversion Hydro
The project proposed for Bute Inlet has become a prime example of just how large and unsustainable river diversion hydropower projects can be. Bute Inlet’s chiseled granite peaks and turquoise glacial waters make it one of BC’s most beautiful and awe-inspiring coastal fjords. Alterra Power (formerly Plutonic Power), in partnership with General Electric, hopes to dam and divert 17 rivers and streams that drain into Bute Inlet. The sheer size, generating capacity, and ecological footprint of the Bute Inlet project is unprecedented in BC. Its 1,027-Megawatt capacity is greater (though much less efficient) than that of the massive Site C hydroelectric project proposed for the Peace River, and would require 443 kilometres of new transmission lines, 267 kilometres of permanent roads, 142 bridges, and nearly 100 kilometres of river and stream diversions. Severe impacts to species of concern such as grizzly bears and marbled murrelets would be unavoidable. This project represents a massive reconfiguration of the hydrology of the watersheds of Bute Inlet, and an unacceptable threat to fish, wildlife, landscape aesthetics, recreational opportunities, and other values associated with this area.
To get a better idea of the scope and potential impact of this project a flyover video has been produced from Google Earth data. To view the Google Earth files directly, see the links for Bute Inlet, the overview of IPP projects throughout Southern BC, as well as the file on water licences.