Canada green power stocks fall on surprise ruling

Tue Jul 28, 2009 5:51pm EDT
 

By Nicole Mordant

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - Shares in a bunch of Canadian green energy companies slumped on Tuesday after a surprise regulatory decision created uncertainty about the future of dozens of clean power projects being developed in the West Coast province of British Columbia.

The companies, which aim to produce electricity from renewable sources such as wind, water or biomass, have been waiting for over a year for the province's power utility to announce the winners of long-term electricity contracts.

The results were expected any day now by applicants such as run-of-river hydro power producer Plutonic Power Corp and Naikun Wind Energy Group Inc. But an unexpected decision from provincial regulators now threatens to delay, change the terms of, or even scupper BC Hydro's power call.

Late on Monday the British Columbia Utilities Commission, which regulates BC Hydro, unexpectedly rejected the power utility's long-term business plan, which includes its proposal to buy clean electricity from small, independent producers.

The commission took issue with several areas of BC Hydro's plan, including whether they met the provincial government's requirement to meet self-sufficiency in electricity by 2016.

"Had the (Long-Term Acquisition Plan) been approved...BC Hydro would have been ready to announce the winners very quickly," said Tom Hackney, vice-president for policy at the BC Sustainable Energy Association.

"Under these circumstances there is a lot of uncertainty," he told Reuters.

Macquarie Research analyst Steve Harris said that while the language in the utility commission's report is "somewhat ambiguous" his interpretation is that the clean power call is "dead".   Continued...