BC Hydro

Errors and alternatives

Despite the 2017 BCUC finding that costs of Site C and alternatives were virtually equivalent, John Horgan’s NDP Government chose to proceed with dam construction.

Three years ago, John Horgan’s Government promised the 2017 upward budget revision would be firm, final and effectively managed.

Three years before that, Liberal Energy Minister Bill Bennett provided assurance that the $7.9 billion Site C dam budget was fully reviewed by the world’s top experts. It was final; nothing left to chance.

The Horgan Government has taken no account of the risks of building a massive structure on geologically unstable ground, although experts have stated that was reason enough to abandon the project.

Nor did NDP account for declining costs and accelerating efficiencies of alternatives.

Liberals were wrong. BC NDP were wrong. Critics who recommended other forms of renewable energy were correct.

In 2020, BC Hydro admits it is uncertain how the dam can be made safe from catastrophe. Consequently, the amount of money needed to complete Site C is unknown.

Meanwhile, the cost of alternative sources of electricity has continued to decline while technology advances.

Wind and solar energy doubled its share of the global power mix over the last five years… The sources of renewable energy made up nearly 10% of power in most parts of the world in the first half of this year…

Wind and solar generation has doubled in the last five years…


Researchers from the University of California, Davis, have announced a new invention that could harness solar power at night. They published a paper in ACS Photonics that explained how new technology could use a different process than solar panels to generate energy around the clock. The team that published these findings is currently working on building prototypes.

This technology could represent a turning point in sustainable power.


However, one standout concept on display here is the Intensifying Solar Panel, a low concentrating solar device that includes its own internal tracker, now four years in development. The company reckons it can deliver the panels at roughly half the cost of a standard solar panel, thanks to a variety of technology improvements…


The movement of wind and water, the heat and light of the sun, the carbohydrates in plants, and the warmth in the Earth—all are energy sources that can supply our needs in a sustainable way.

Solar energy—power from the sun—is a vast and inexhaustible resource that can supply a significant portion of global electricity needs.

Wind turbines harness air currents and convert them to emissions-free power. Plentiful and inexhaustible in the United States and around the world, wind power is one of the fastest growing renewable technologies and has the potential to provide a significant portion of our electricity needs…

Just as the invention of refrigeration changed how people consumed food—allowing them to store it before eating—energy storage can revolutionize the how we use energy. It lets us produce clean energy when it’s cheapest, store it, and put it back into the electricity grid when needed. Using storage in conjunction with solar and wind energy helps ensure that power is available even when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing…

 New hydrokinetic technologies harness the power of ocean’s currents and tides…

The Next Perovskite Solar Breakthrough Could Give Us Endless Energy By 2025…

Solar power has become more affordable, accessible, and prevalent than ever before thanks to technology improvements, competitive procurement, and a large base of experienced, internationally active project developers.


Falling solar costs have renewed clean hydrogen hopes…

…the costs of renewables are falling fast. Meanwhile, the costs of electrolyzers themselves are projected to decline steeply as manufacturers scale up production, and various research groups develop advanced versions of the technology.

A Nature Energy paper early last year found that if market trends continue, green hydrogen could be economically competitive on an industrial scale within a decade. Similarly, the International Energy Agency projects that the cost of clean hydrogen will fall 30% by 2030.


When it comes to renewable energy, waves have other resources beat in two respects. First, unlike solar, waves offer a consistent energy source regardless of time of day. Second, waves provide much greater energy density than wind due to water’s heavier mass.

Despite these advantages, wave-energy harvesting is still in its infancy…

[MIT Professor] Asegun Henry …has created a new storage system that has been dubbed “sun in a box.” Using two tanks, excess energy can be stored in white-hot molten silicon. When this excess energy is needed, mounted photovoltaic cells can be actuated into place to convert the white-hot light from the silicon back into electricity….

“It’s a true battery that can work with any type of energy conversion,” adds Henry.

[MIT postdoc Reshma Rao], “If we can get and store hydrogen sustainably, we can basically electrify our economy using renewables like wind, wave, or solar.” 

Instead of blundering on with a project that was first promoted about 50 years ago, British Columbia could have been spending billions to be at the forefront of new energy.

Orbital Marine Power, Edinburgh, Scotland

On the island of Eday, electricity from wind and tidal turbines generates hydrogen.
The gas is transported to Kirkwall, where a fuel cell uses it to make electricity and heat.

A Canadian inventor developed Waterotor, an interesting hydrokinetic technology to convert energy in slow moving water (streams, rivers, canals and Ocean currents) into electricity at speeds as slow as 3.2 km/h (0.9 m/s).

Parts of British Columbia are perfectly suited for wind, tidal, geothermal or solar power generation. None of these are destructive or capable of posing a ten to twenty billion dollar risk.

We are well into the 21st century but the thinking of people at BC Hydro and the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources are stuck in the 1970s.

Categories: BC Hydro, Site C

10 replies »

  1. BC NDP 2017 election platform:

    “Maximizing generation from existing infrastructure

    Christy Clark and the BC Liberals have pushed a megaproject ahead in north eastern BC without allowing for proper oversight by the agency responsible for protecting BC Hydro customers, and without maximizing productivity from already existing dams.
    Where new hydro electricity is needed, the BC NDP will focus on maxi- mizing capacity of current infrastructure. Rather than new dams, we can generate new power by upgrading existing dams.

    Leading on clean energy

    While wind and solar projects are providing an ever-increasing amount of power in jurisdictions around the world, Christy Clark and the BC Liberals have made BC so unfriendly for investment in these kinds of projects that renewable energy associations have left BC.
    With PowerBC, we will look to renewable, modern energy sources for our future energy needs. We will bring investment in wind, solar and other clean energy projects back to BC, and ensure we are including communities in the benefits of these projects.”

    These promises were broken so fast it’s very hard to imagine they were sincere. That casts serious doubt on any future promises.


  2. Norm,

    Thank you for your continued coverage of this issue and for your efforts to correct the public record.

    I have to suggest one change to this article; the critics who recommended other forms of renewable energy were ALSO wrong. The point is, BC does not need ANY new generation for 20 years. What we do need is flexible and distributed energy storage to reduce the need for added CAPACITY on our system.

    I’m happy to explain this further, but it does appear that no one in a position of power in BC has the first clue about electricity or the wires that make up the grid.

    At the risk of sounding like a broken record, we can’t hope to have positive solutions implemented until we get rid of the people who don’t have a fraking clue what they are talking about and are not self-aware enough to realize their mental limitations.

    If we vote in idiots, idiotic policy tends to follow.


    • Quote: At the risk of sounding like a broken record, we can’t hope to have positive solutions implemented until we get rid of the people who don’t have a fraking clue what they are talking about and are not self-aware enough to realize their mental limitations.

      Exactly, this is what is wrong with government today, career bureaucrats, straight from university without a hint of practical experience.

      In the past years, in my efforts to get LRT for the lower mainland, I have been told by Engineers (you know, the chaps who used to hand a VW everywhere) the following.

      “Can’t use the Arbutus Corridor, the trains there ran on a different track gauge.”
      “Can’t operate freight and passenger trains on the same track”.
      “LRT is unproven technology”
      “No one builds with LRT today”

      And more.


      • Mr. Eye,

        You have correctly summarized the problem, people in power want to stay in power or gain more power. They are not interested in solving or even understanding problems.

        We need to understand what problems we actually have; then engage society, universities and experts to outline options. Only then can we start implementing sound solutions.

        E.g : Covid-19 has shown how so many people can and should work from home. Why don’t we rezone some office buildings to allow for condos and have less people commuting to a cubicle where they phone their coworkers in adjacent cubicles to get things done. Let’s leave more room on the roads for essential workers that actually have a reason to commute and pollute.


    • Concerned engineer, your observations align perfectly with one of Rafe Mair’s axioms:

      “You make a serious mistake in assuming that people in charge know what the hell they’re doing.”

      Speaking of Rafe, here’s one of his articles wherein he reports the financial ruin of B.C. Hydro predicted by Erik Andersen. In 2010, even before Site C was added to the calculation he wrote, “As the evidence of need for more electricity is not apparent, the aggressive borrowing/investing/contracting with IPPs is clearly wrong.”



  3. I seen that columnist Vaughn Palmer did bring up a a basic summary of the Site C issues just awhile ago, which was good, but the rest of the useless corporate press sheep seem to be turning the old blind eye to this most serious situation. Serving the public. What bull. Not even hardly a whimper from the so called leading radio puppets. Amazing. Are they bought off with don’t rock the boat fear or what the heck is it. What kind of damn broadcast journalism and press gallery is that. Hell it’s all getting to be pretty disgusting. They are horrible and getting more horrible.


  4. BC has a surplus over need of 4 or 5 Site Cs just from conservation and efficiency improvements. This from Hydros Conservation Potential Review, Marbek Associates,

    Click to access 2007%20Marbek%20Report.pdf

    BC Hydro, and respective governments have know this, and the opening line of the report is that it is an intensive search for ‘some’ of the electricity savings available to BC Hydro customers. The only answer that fits all the comments and Normans article is that corruption is king in BC


  5. RanD,

    2007… so I guess the BC Libs basically buried those ideas and forged ahead with the IPP and Site C programs instead. Such a waste


  6. if BCHydro were a publicly traded company
    shareholders would be screaming and filing lawsuits for a missed deadline annual report?


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