BC Hydro

Solar power unstoppable, even on the wet coast

Dave Melrose, a reader who is in the solar installation business, commented on my previous article Death knell for net metering. He worries that people could be misinformed because I didn’t make clear that self-generation of electricity remains viable for homeowners.

People tell me a 15-year payback on solar installations is common, even without selling excess power to the utility. However, having studied the financial statements of BC Hydro, I know that huge rate increases are coming. These will shorten the solar system payback considerably.

Deliveries to large industrial users — almost 30% of sales — are below BC Hydro’s marginal cost of power and unneeded electricity is purchased from IPPs in quantities and at prices that are rising steadily. Therefore, rates for residential and small or medium-sized businesses will increase at rates even higher than in the past ten years.

10 years 460

My certainty about future rate increases is revealed by these charts, which show a decade of flat demand, losses hidden by fake accounting and total liabilities that are 250% of the amount reported ten years ago.

sales 2007 2017 480.jpg

regulatory assets and liabilities 800

IPPs 400

The comment by Mr. Melrose is repeated here:

Thanks for a very informative article, and thanks to everyone who has made comments.

As a NABCEP Cetrified PV Installation Professional who recently relocated to B.C. from Utah to continue my career in renewable energy I am deeply concerned with the stance B.C. Hydro is taking on net metering.

I never recommend to my customers that they exceed a 100% offset with their systems so the announcement last Friday doesn’t worry me on that level. I am very worried about what seems like a unilateral decision made by the utility without much concern for approval by the BCUC.

I’ve experienced the hostility and contention between the solar industry and entrenched utilities in the U.S. and the successes and failures in those political battles. It would appear that I will need to continue fighting for my job here in B.C.

To that end I might ask you Norm, would you please write another follow up to this article? I’m beginning to hear from customers that have read portions of this article (and not the comments) who are coming away with the understanding that there is no more net metering at all and they no longer want to install solar.

I’m doing my best to explain the net metering announcement to people one by one but you have the ability to communicate with a much larger audience. The title of your article, while making a statement, is actually hurting the industry as a whole.

People need to know that choosing solar is still a viable option and that if they don’t exceed their own needs the net metering program is still going to benefit them. Thanks for your help.


Categories: BC Hydro

16 replies »

  1. Can we have more info, contact number, etc, with regard to where this man works? Wevare capable of installation, just not certain of where to get products of high efficiency suitable for our cloudy clinate! And I’d like to see as many people as possible jump on this wahon to lick the knees out from under BCH!! May site C rot in hell!

    Thank you.


  2. I left this comment at ArmchairMayor.ca where Nancy Bepple wrote about net metering:

    BC Hydro declares they are paying too much to six participants in net metering so they want to stop paying anything to the more than 1,200 people in the program.

    The utility won’t reveal individual rates paid to independent power producers, some of which get 150% per KWh of the rate paid to net metering customers. BC Hydro is happy with secret IPP deals that sucked $1.06 billion out of the public system in the first nine months of the current fiscal year but worried about $220,000 paid under net metering.

    The unstated concern of BC Hydro is that rapidly rising power rates and declining solar installation costs will see a huge growth in customers wanting to contribute power to the grid. That puts the public power company’s current $12 billion capital spending program at risk.

    An old line can be extended: “Writers write, dancers dance, singers sing, and builders build.” BC Hydro’s objective is not to deliver economically, it is to keep expanding the empire.

    At my site, a reader who is an installer of solar systems who moved from Utah to B.C. had this to say about attitudes he’s encountered:

    “I’ve experienced the hostility and contention between the solar industry and entrenched utilities in the U.S. and the successes and failures in those political battles. It would appear that I will need to continue fighting for my job here in B.C.”


  3. Melrose is right. The average house uses 220kwh/day in BC according to BCHydro. Off the grid here the average is 3kwh/day on solar. Its not a fair comparison but gives you an idea off what is possible, I’m sure the BCHydro/Liberal party collusion in its tricky accounting dreams is what they’ve mortgaged the people of BC to for pay for their corruption.
    I look at all the those houses on the south slope of Vancouver facing the Fraser River……..and can see why it’s a terrifying idea to these crooks.
    The people are outsmarting us!
    I wonder if they would socially outlaw solar panels on the roof as being “Counterproductive” to the interest of Hydro’s BC Ratepayers?
    The double speak George Orwell described I think is still alive and well.
    By going with solar you also socially take out these people from your lives, and preserve the sense of democracy we live in.
    Its fun to do so.


    • I doubt that many of us really understand the economics of power! “The average house uses 220kwh/day in BC…” is a prime example! That would be 6,600kwh/month! That’s my usage for the year!
      “Off the grid here the average is 3kwh/day on solar.” is another example. 3kwh/day would result from a 260 watt installation – hardly worth the effort. I would expect the average installation would be in the range of 15 to 20 panels or 4000 – 5000 watts, say 4.5kw and for summertime, perhaps 45kwh/day.
      it’s sorta like saying BC has x trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Does anyone in their wildest imagination have any idea what a trillion cubic feet of gas looks like? How many Olympic size swimming pools is THAT! Or football fields.


      • Excellent point. Those two metrics bookend what a typical residential customer would use on a daily basis.

        In the U.S., the average system size has increased over the past decade as system costs have come down but have trended closer to 5-6 kW in size (20-25 250W panels). Depending on location and system orientation (direction-facing), the average annual capacity factor, or the amount of power actually produced out of the entire possible power that could be produced in a year, is closer to 15%. Therefore, a 5 kW system * 15% capacity factor * 8,760 hours/year = 6,570 kWh of annual production or 18 kWh/day.


        • Sorry, but I forgot to mention that these are stats for a typical residential rooftop system. Clearly commercial or utility-scale systems have optimal siting and can have tracking technology aimed at increasing that capacity factor.


  4. I can’t understand why BC Hydro hasn’t embraced generating solar power themselves and suppling it to the grid. Look at all the land that they have underneath their high transmission tower right-of-ways throughout the province for installing solar. Check out what Kimberly did with solar panels at the old Sullivan Mine. To me, it’s obvious that we have stupid people in charge.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Not only you Mike, its obvious to most that they’re stupid; or corrupt! They don’t embrace the concept of solar power because that would defeat their (alleged) reason for Site C.

      And Hugh above, you’re just confusing the issue by posting false facts, be they yours or Hydro’s.


  5. What Kimberley did at the old Concentrator site was a partnership with the old sites owner. How willing BC Hydro ? Solar power will grow when medium sized business begins to see the value on their operating statement. Not only for power but for hot water especially in our number one industry; tourism


  6. “China is installing a bewildering, and potentially troublesome, amount of solar capacity

    It added almost 10 gigawatts of photovoltaic generation to its grid in the first three months of this year—allow us to provide a little context about how huge that is.”


    “This is the power equivalent of 10 giant nuclear plants.”


  7. Thank you so much for this follow up article! Especially the link with my name, that was quite unexpected. Let’s all keep up this discussion in any forum we have available. I feel it’s inevitable that our renewable energy sources will continue to grow despite the challenges thrown up by the establishment power providers. Keeping the public informed and educated is the single most important way speed the process along.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Makes me very sad to think we have such a corrupt bunch running our province not only in hydro but everything in general Watch all the promises at election tme and then see what happens when they are elected I often wonder what makes them change there mind They do a complete about face really sad in a beautiful country like Canada


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