In 2017, Guy Dauncey made a submission to the British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC). It included this succinct paragraph:
The numbers show that even with the rapid electrification of transportation and heat, we do not need to flood precious farmland in the Peace River valley to generate hydropower. We can get all the energy we need in an affordable manner from a portfolio of demand-side management, wind, solar and geothermal, and we can handle the need for dispatchability.Energy Alternatives to the Site C Dam in a Climate-Challenged World
Demand side management is the modification of consumer demand for energy. It is the least expensive way of dealing with energy needs of a growing population.
One problem with DSM is that it does not result in unbounded spending for utility expansion. As a result, it is never the choice of executives whose financial prospects depend on mega-projects that enlarge the empire employing them.
Without considering malfeasance, it is difficult to surmise why BC Hydro’s leadership has long opposed wind, solar and geothermal power.
Elsewhere, utilities behave differently. The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis states the price of solar electricity has been “in freefall, to levels so low they were once thought impossible.“
Wind power has attracted attention of utilities not bound to old technologies by inertia. No wonder, given this 2017 report:
The Department of Energy (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) released a new report finding wind energy cost reductions of 50% are possible by 2030. That’s on top of the 66% cost reduction since 2009.
IEEFA reports solar and wind power are growing so rapidly that the United States will get more power in 2021 from renewable energy than from coal.
Most business managers are drawn to new low-price means of production, particularly when costs of innovations are trending steadily downward and costs of conventional methods are rising.
Not at BC Hydro.
BC Liberals and senior provincial bureaucrats aimed to get Site C to a “point of no return” before a newly elected government could be in position to alter established energy policies.
They need not have worried.
NDP promises to change British Columbia energy policies turned out to be easily forgotten rhetoric.