Canmore, AB – Another major hydroelectric dam is being proposed for the Peace River, this time in one of the most heavily developed regions of northwestern Alberta.
AHP Development Corp. is hoping to build a power plant and dam near Dunvegan, Alberta, touting the 330-megawatt project as a “cost-effective” way to generate electricity while producing less carbon emissions compared to coal-power plants.
Canada’s federal government has called for an independent review for this project, estimating the review panel would produce a final report within 16 months.
“This review should take into account the added effects this project will have on a region already facing intense development pressure,” said Jodi Hilty, President and Chief Scientist of the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative. “Y2Y strongly supports green energy efforts that have low impact on biodiversity conservation. Projects focused on increasing energy efficiency, retrofitting existing dams, and other efforts that are much less expensive both in dollars and biodiversity impacts are the way forward. Mega dams, such as the proposed, are enormously problematic because of their effects on ecosystems.”
In a peer-reviewed paper published in the journal Energy Policy, researchers concluded that mega dams are not often cost-effective over the long term, and immediate gains from power production are often outweighed by their extensive negative effects on the local environment.
“Industrial development along the Peace River Valley—especially oil and gas wells, and corresponding roads and seismic lines—has already severely impaired wildlife connectivity through habitat fragmentation,” says Hilty. “If the review panel takes these factors into account, they will find this project’s environmental consequences are not acceptable, and do not outweigh the costs.”
The Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative is a non-profit organization that seeks to preserve one of the world’s largest remaining intact mountain ecosystems. The Yellowstone to Yukon region includes the headwaters of major rivers, such as the Peace, Fraser and Columbia.