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Hydro board member poses potential conflict of interest: COPE

The union that represents BC Hydro employees says the integrity of the crown utility is at stake because of a potential conflict of interest involving BC Hydro board member Jonathan Drance.

The letter was prompted by an article published earlier this week on The Tyee, which described how Stikeman Elliott, a law firm at which Drance is a partner, helped secure a $518 million bond deal for Cloudworks Energy Inc.'s Harrison Lake hydro project.

The article also noted that Cloudworks and Finavera Renewables Inc., another company with a long-standing association with Stikeman Elliott, each had multiple projects approved under BC Hydro's latest call for power, and that Stikeman Elliott partner Hein Poulus is a major shareholder in Finavera.

This, plus the fact that Drance attended an Independent Power Producer's Association of B.C. conference as a Stikeman Elliott representative while he was a BC Hydro board member, is cause for concern, said COPE 378 president Andy Ross.

"We have proudly represented BC Hydro workers since it's inception and we are deeply concerned that the integrity of the crown utility is at stake from this potential conflict of interest," reads the letter, which was signed by Ross and sent to Blair Lekstrom, minister of energy, mines and petroleum resources, acting CEO of BC Hydro Bev Van Ruyven and NDP energy critic John Horgan.

"I request that you provide clarification as to what your government and BC Hydro have done -- and will do -- to protect the public interest from real and perceived conflicts of interest," it said.

"It is imperative British Columbians have the knowledge and confidence that BC Hydro's directors act only in the public interest -- and never in their own, or that of their friends and associates."

A spokesperson for Minister Lekstrom told The Tyee BC Hydro will respond to the letter. Neither BC Hydro nor Drance responded to requests for comment by the end of day.

Colleen Kimmett reports for The Tyee.

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