Published on October 10th, 2012
Traditional Energy Gets Along With New Energy in Dawson Creek
Dawson Creek has an amazing zero unemployment rate, the best proof of a booming economy. Dawson Creek is located in northeastern British Columbia (BC) next to Alberta’s border. In 1879, a geologist George Dawson surveyed the area, which later became named after him. He may have likely envisaged certain subsoil riches there, but what he did not expect for sure was the scale of transformation, turning that inert farming place into a vibrant regional industrial center.
The golden key that opened a magic door to prosperity is well known: hydrocarbons. Dawson Creek enters into the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin, the geological area that holds one of the largest reserves of petroleum and natural gas in the world and supplies most of the North American market.
So this is all about natural gas and, to be precise, unconventional and tight gas that makes the basis of the local economy and secures the long-term growth of the city. Nowadays, its streets are tightly packed with trucks and tractors bearing logos of the biggest players in the industry, including EnCana, Shell, ConocoPhillips, Suncor and others that operate over 200 wells to get an access to reserves of the Montney play, currently estimated at 77 to 176 trillion cubic feet of marketable gas. While that’s a major oil play it was not the reason why Dawson Creek has been recently ranked by Money Sense magazine as one of the 15 best Canadian cities to live in.
If you ask Dawson Creek’s citizens what inspires their confidence in a sustainable future, you would be surprised to find an answer with no sign of fossil fuels in the conversation. Taking the notion of sustainability as the ability to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to do the same, local residents placed their focus on renewable clean energy and an alleviation of environmental impact from traditional fossil fuels.
First and foremost, Dawson Creek promotes hydroelectricity. The energy of flowing water is not subject to a credit crunch, market turmoil or an economic recession. It allows BC Hydro to generate annually in the northeastern part of the province nearly 30 percent of the total 43,000 gigawatt hours of electricity needed through two generating stations installed on the Peace River, and is considering the possibility of erecting a third.
Secondly, the priority is given to wind energy. In 2009, the first commercial wind farm, called Bear Mountain Wind Park, was officially put into operation by AltaGas on the outskirts of Dawson Creek. The farm is capable of generating a maximum of 102 megawatts of power, which is enough to cover the annual needs of the entire region, spreading south of the Peace River. Since then, another even more powerful wind farm has been built in the area and six new farms are on the way.
And lastly, there is an option to go into solar, biomass and geothermal energy. All of these possibilities are on the “clean energy” to-do list in Dawson Creek.
In 2011, the city of Dawson Creek launched a new fund for projects that save energy and fight climate change, raising the money for the program by putting a price on every ton of greenhouse gas pollution from municipal operations.
With the backing of local residents, the city ordered a series of studies from the Pembina Institute to evaluate the existing municipal green programs and to improve energy efficiency in Dawson Creek homes, along with drawing up a strategy for sustainable development.
Dawson Creek has received numerous praises from the Union of BC Municipalities as the province’s most innovative city. In 2008, it received a Green City Award.
Fancy living in a city where changes are smart and positive? Welcome to Dawson Creek!
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