While the next four or five years “will probably look after themselves”, director Ron Burnett said the Chamber of Commerce had expressed fears to John Les during last week’s meeting about what happened after that.
“Once the Atco trailers start leaving town, what are we going to be left with?” Burnett asked. “A nice sustainable economy or back to 45 per cent vacancy.”
Therefore, “we encouraged (Les) to do some thinking and some planning for the period 2015-2020,” Burnett said.
The chamber also raised a shorter term concern – the availability of power for the new industrial plants that are looking to locate here.
Burnett pointed out the numbers they were hearing regarding power needs of the first phase of KM LNG plant were between 180megawatts and 200mw. “And there is serious consideration they’ll go to phase two immediately.”
While that didn’t automatically mean the power requirement would double, he suggested it could be in the area of 300mw to 350mw.
“That’s not going to be available from Kemano,” he added.
That was a reference to the fact that once the Rio Tinto Alcan modernization project is complete, the new smelter will use a lot more power than the old one and, therefore, there will be substantially less surplus power to be sold to BC Hydro.
Earlier this year RTA’s Paul Henning told the Northern Sentinel that while it was currently sending out between 250mw and 420mw depending on the time of year, once the new plant was operational that would dive to about 100 mw in the winter going as low as 30-50 mw in the summer.
And Burnett pointed out KM LNG is not the only liquefied natural gas project on the horizon.
“As far as I can tell there are probably another eight or nine LNG proposals at various stages of research, and some even further on than that.”
There will also be the need to power up the Northwest Transmission Line running from Terrace to proposed mining operations to the north.
“We’re not sure BC Hydro is ready to meet (that demand),” he added.