Cullen calls for timely decision

When it comes to the provincial government’s decision regarding the proposed Hwy. 37 transmission line, MP Nathan Cullen is saying they need to be mindful of the highly sensitive timeline before it jeopardizes the project on a whole.

  • Jan. 26, 2011 5:00 a.m.
Nathan Cullen

Nathan Cullen

When it comes to the provincial government’s decision regarding the proposed Hwy. 37 transmission line, MP Nathan Cullen is saying they need to be mindful of the highly sensitive timeline before it jeopardizes the project on a whole.

“We hope they make a quick and positive decision so that we can get this project going and get some very very good projects in the mining sector started further up in the northern stretch of our province,” Cullen said.

It was almost six years ago when the discussion around the Hwy. 37 power line first started at a meeting Cullen was at in New Hazelton. Then, the project didn’t have a lot of champions behind it, said Cullen, who at the time “kicked the tires” to make sure it would work for us here in the northwest.

Soon after, in speaking with people along the route and as questions began to be answered, he has become a huge fan of it and so, when the federal government announced it, he made sure the federal government realized they had his whole-hearted support, along with many others in the region.

“We were a bit surprised that the government moved as quick as it did, but now we just want to get the project done,” Cullen said.

Now in the hands of the Minister of Forests and Lands and the Minister of Environment’s hands, Cullen said they will have 45 days to review the project, and either give it the go-ahead or try-again message from the provincial standpoint. AltaGas has agreed to contribute $180 million to the project, which would extend BC Hydro’s Skeena Substation to Bob Quinn, so that it can later access the provincial power grid. The provincial portion of the funding would be $94 million.

Last year, the Federal government announced that it would supply $130 million for the project to move forwards, using economic stimulus funds that Cullen says may not be available for much longer.

“The federal government is threatening to move it off the table if British Columbia doesn’t move quick enough, hence my asking the two ministers that now have this file on their desk to make a good and quick decision so that we can tap the federal government for the cash and get this project started as soon as break-up happens,” Cullen said.

Having spoken with mining companies before this Cullen couldn’t say enough on the benefits to the region if this goes forward.

“Their whole project shifts dramatically when they have a reliable power source,” Cullen said. “This is something we need to get at, and have needed to get at, in order to open up our province.”

It’s also a proposal that has the Americans interested also, he said. In conversations with his American counterparts, there’s a wealth of orphaned green power in Alaska that’s underused.

“For the local, provincial and international reasons it seems like this project has got everything,” Cullen said. “If this power line enables even one significant mine to get off, never mind three or four, boy the revenue generation … would quickly pay for whatever contributions we’re making.”