BC Hydro

Motivated by greed, not by need

“Conservation is the cleanest, easiest and least expensive way to meet the increasing demand for electricity in B.C. – it’s like building a virtual dam.” – Bob Elton, BC Hydro President and CEO, September, 2008.

Two months after the statement was published, the BC Liberal Government removed Bob Elton from his role at the public utility. Gradually, BC Hydro’s effective conservation initiatives were deemphasized and defunded.

Elton’s words remain true today but they conflict with the borrow-and-spend Government of Christy Clark as much as they did when Premier Campbell’s associates were aiming to install power generators on every available watercourse.

berkeleyResearch shows North American energy use can be reduced by improving existing facilities. The Berkeley Lab conducts research for the United States Department of Energy (DOE). They evaluated a group of deep energy retrofits and concluded:

…overall, the deep energy retrofits were a success—the site energy reductions ranged from 31 to 74 percent. …The largest source energy savings was 96 percent, and the average saving over 11 houses was 43 percent.

Substantial electrical savings can be found elsewhere. The DOE states:

Approximately 10% of total energy consumed can be attributed to electric motor-driven systems in the residential and commercial sectors. Advanced motor technologies provide various opportunities to reduce overall energy consumption in these sectors.

Heavy industry uses about 30% of the electricity consumed in British Columbia, most of that in motors. Few standards apply to large motors and industries often choose the least efficient solutions because initial costs are lower. In addition, public policy has been to minimize electricity rates for heavy industry and that discourages movement toward toward machinery that consumes less power. In the worst example possible, the BC Government recently decreed that mining companies, massive users of power, could defer energy payment indefinitely. If a low price was a disincentive to seek efficiency, imagine what a zero price accomplishes.


Electric Motors Use 45% of Global Electricity, Clean Technica:

Electric motors are the single biggest consumer of electricity. They account for about two thirds of industrial power consumption and, as stated above, about 45% of global power consumption, according to a new analysis by the International Energy Agency.

Lighting is a distant second, consuming about 19%.

This means that almost every second power plant is producing electricity for the sole purpose of running motors.

Society can make choices to use less electricity but there will be costs attached to gain efficiency. However, making no serious conservation brings costs as well. We see that now with BC Hydro and independent power producers spending vast sums of borrowed dollars and destroying rivers and alpine lakes throughout the province. As we consider the subject, a large scar is being carved into the Peace River Valley for the Site C dam. It is work motivated by greed, not by need.

peace 1020

U.S. Department of Energy – Success Stories:

Fan motors are critical to the open-cased refrigerators used in most grocery stores. …The two most common types of motors on the market today are based on decades-old technology…

An Innovative Motor Poised to Change the Market… Q-Sync cuts energy use by 30% compared to ECMs [electronically commutated motors], and by up to 80% compared to shaded-pole motors. If fully adopted, QM Power predicts this innovative, highly efficient, and cost-effective motor technology has the potential to achieve more than …$1 billion in energy savings.

Energy Efficiency Measures for Industrial Businesses:

…energy used by U.S. manufacturing plants totals $180 billion annually. Whether making steel, refining oil or canning vegetables, there is great potential for improving energy efficiency and our status as an energy waste offender.

Government statistics show that, on average, 30 percent of energy in buildings is wasted. …This translates to potentially billions of dollars saved annually. A focus on energy efficiency implies a focus on operational efficiency and a direct impact on profitability and business results.

Introduction to Premium Efficiency Motors

Energy-efficient motors pay for themselves in a few years or sometimes even a few months, after which they will continue to pile up savings worth many times their purchase cost for as long as they remain in service.

On a nation wide basis, high-efficiency motors promise truly enormous energy savings. …According to DOE estimates, potential industrial motor system energy savings, using mature, proven, cost-effective technologies range from 11-18 percent of current annual usage… This savings is valued up to $5 billion. It would also avoid the release of up to 29.5 million metric tons of carbon equivalent emissions to the atmosphere annually.

…It is estimated that the NEMA Premium™ motor program could …prevent the release of nearly 80 million metric tons of carbon into the atmosphere over the next 10 years. That would be the equivalent of keeping 16 million cars off the road.

Categories: BC Hydro, Energy, Site C

10 replies »

  1. Greed not need. During the election campaign next spring how about we all chant that every time we see Ms Photo-op


  2. I have read Northern Insights for a good number of years and wish to express my appreciation for its quality and increasing frequency.
    I LEARN something worthwhile from virtually every post and often forward links to others.
    A simple thank you to an honourable journalist!


  3. I read somewhere that Site C has already spent over $1.5 billion and has contracted another $4.5 billion for equipment etc. That’s $6.0 billion committed already! How in the world can anyone cancel that amount of work? (rhetorical question.) Chrispy has managed through lying and deceit to ‘get it past the point of no return’. To even consider mothballing it at this stage is politically inconceivable. Can you imagine the amount of cancellation costs there would be in these contracts that we are not privy to? Just ask Rafe – he’s the lawyer.
    I’ve given up being ‘strongly opposed’ to this project to becoming ‘unhappily resigned’. And Furious! I’ve lost all faith in ‘democracy’ and as much as I dislike Trump and am ignorant of his policies I’m seriously considering relocating to the US of A. Or perhaps some banana republic where I don’t expect anything better of them.


    • Democracy plays no role in the BC Liberal party. They’re quite adept at skirting it. Justin’s issuance of the necessary permits to carry on with Site C only empowers Ms. Clark further. She has earned our rebuke on May 9th, 2017.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Don’t give up easily. We have been fighting and stopping this dam for more than fourty years because it is simply too costly in so many different ways. Cancellation costs will be negotiable and what ever we end up paying it will be cheaper than going ahead with it and losing money decade after decade.

      And don’t give up on democracy either. Past examples of it have saved us from site c before but it is up to us to bring it back from this Christy Clark/Cambell cliff. We need all the help we can get.


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