BC Hydro

Population change, economic growth and electricity consumption

Site C was sold to the province as a necessity by people who knew they would gain financially from the project.

Proponents took advantage of assumptions made by people without information. Politicians and media failed to inform the public accurately so, despite opposition by those who have done needed research, most people support Site C.

It seems logical that a growing population and an expanding economy would need greater supplies of electricity. But de-industrialization and lighting, electronic, motor and other efficiencies changed the proposition.

Reality over the past 15 years is expressed by this simple chart:

Yes, according to Statistics Canada (Table: 36-10-0402-01), BC’s Gross Domestic Product increased 40%, as measured in chained (2012) dollars. Records of BC Stats show the province’s population rose by 21%.

Yet, BC Hydro sales to residential, commercial, light industry, and heavy industry consumers dropped from 50,541 GWh in calendar year 2005 to 50,270 GWh in calendar year 2019, a drop of 1%.

A 15-year history of flat domestic sales is one uncomfortable truth for the spendthrifts at BC Hydro. The others are that hydro-power is not clean, harmless energy and alternative methods of producing electricity are less expensive.

The impact of electric vehicles on electricity demand

Many in the industry are relying on electric vehicles (EVs) to reverse the downward trend in global electricity consumption. But a new report from Redburn, a UK research and investment company, suggests the growing energy efficiency of EVs means that the industry and investors may have to look elsewhere for significant boosts in demand for electrical power, says energy expert Fereidoon Sioshansi of EEinformer.

Until recently, the demand for electricity – like that of oil – was always rising. Over the years, as new electricity consuming gadgets were invented and commercialised on a massive scale – starting with incandescent light bulbs, radios, refrigerators, motors, fans, washers and dryers, dishwashers, TVs, air conditioning, electronic devices, personal computers, printers and so on – the demand kept rising.

Economic growth, wages, income levels and other factors would impact the rate of growth, but grow it did for over a century. The saying within the industry was that if you overbuilt and over-invested, all you had to do was to wait a few years for demand to catch up.

That maxim rarely failed, until the bottom fell out of demand growth…

Categories: BC Hydro, Site C

18 replies »

  1. This trend is set to continue and result in a surplus of generation in BC for the next 20 years.

    The focus has to be on keeping the lights on for customers by minding the wires. No more generators needed. We will need smarter technology to optimize the load factor on our infrastructure.

    First step is to remove the cowards and liars. We need courageous scientists to lay out the hard truths and make necessary changes. Maybe BC Hydro doesn’t need such a large communications department, seems like the information coming from them hasn’t been very useful or transparent.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Just one more reason why Horgan reneged on his promise to freeze hydro rates. Consumers around the globe are using less hydro. Efficiencies in a variety of technologies brought on by government demand have resulted in less consumption.

    Be careful what you wish for. The province is sacked with an unnecessary project generating power that is unneeded with no buyers for the excess.


    • Sadly the cowards and liars are so well placed that the politicians cannot remove them.

      This is the sad comment of our current politics, the bureaucrats have become so powerful that they cannot be removed and in fact they are the politicians as elected officials are mere window dressing giving Canada and BC a perception of being a democracy.

      Short of a palace revolution and the liquidation of top levels of government, nothing will change.


      • So true, so sad.

        It’s like a never ending bad episode of ‘Yes Minister’.

        I still hold out hope that making management’s credentials and their declaration of competence public will limit the incompetence in governance at the very least. It won’t correct the technically competent who are corrupt, but it’s a start.


  3. The era of unlimited electricity use has long gone.

    today, we manage our electricity consumption, with LED lighting, timers on outdoor lights, opening windows for evening breezes to cool the house and a log fire for those cold winter mornings.

    Now with power smart appliances and new technology, power consumption per household is not increasing.

    I have said this before, it should be in the building code that every new house should have a wind/solar generator, which will supply a portion of the electricity used. Such generation in common in Europe and not all that expensive to install.

    The future holds many new and “green” initiatives that just makes Site C a massive White Elephant.


  4. One would think that all our street lighting in every municipality, town, and city in BC should have been retro fitted to LED lights and got rid of the HPS lighting fixtures that we have now. I wonder if BC Hydro has any say in BC’s street lighting policy?


  5. Thanks Norm for a reminder of reality. In 2011 when I questioned the BC H Director of forecasting how they could use a population growth value of over 2% annually he said they were under orders to take the GDP and population growth numbers from a specific private consultant.

    The knowing and deliberate exaggerations were evident maybe 5 or more years prior to then.

    Nobody should be under any illusion that taking the BC H contractual obligations to $60 billion , as the AG reported in early 2017 , was an accident.

    I don’t have any evidence of a link between this event and signing on to NERC but I am a suspicious person.


  6. Public stakeholders (public) told 2% each year growth demand for 20 years now 1% and still…

    20 years incandescent to cfl to led

    100w/13w/9w for same lumen light count?

    13 years flat demand -13 billion dollars spent- ergo long term debt added and for what?


    • It is more than just lighting where efficiency gains have occurred. Electric motors use perhaps double the electricity used by lights and recent years have seen many improvements introduced. Brushless dc motors controlled by external electronics, are significantly more efficient than older styles.

      I wrote about conservation and efficiency here more than four years ago. Unfortunately, BC government decision makers have been guided by people who aim to expand the energy empire that employs them.

      They are “Motivated by greed, not by need.”


      • In the late 70’s, the Linear Induction motors used on the ALRT (SkyTrain cars) were far more efficient than the then rotary or “squirrel cage motors, to day, in 2020, it is the LIM’s that are inefficient and power consumptive when compared to the modern electric tram motor.

        In 40 years, the technology with electric motors can only be termed as revolutionary, it is also that MAGLEV’s (which used LIM’s), once touted to be very cost effective are no longer when compared to HST trains using modern electric motors.

        What will the next 40 years hold?


  7. Just in case anyone thinks John Horgan is yet another politician who stumbled ill-informed into a decision, a few energy related excerpts from his Wikipedia bio should disabuse them of that notion. The fact that this is a lengthy list only serves to amplify that he knew what he was doing when he approved Site C continuation.

    **His positions from 1991 through 1998 saw him assume increasing responsibilities within government, including lead negotiator on the Columbia Basin Trust and as a participant on teams for the Columbia River Treaty and Land Use Plans. In 1998, he worked as a director in the Crown Corporations Secretariat before going on to work at Columbia Power as director of Corporate Affairs, focusing on getting Keenleyside and Brilliant dams repowered.

    His last job in government was at the level of associate deputy minister working in the Ministry of Finance on energy projects.

    38th Parliament – In June 2006, Horgan was named critic to the Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resource.

    39th Parliament – Party leader Carole James kept Horgan as energy and mines critic. Horgan was critical of the government over-turning the BC Utilities Commission’s decision on obtaining electricity from independent power producers and exempting the Site C dam and the northwest transmission line projects from Utilities Commission review, arguing that the projects were not in the public interest. Horgan linked the government’s imposition of private IPP electricity purchasing agreements on BC Hydro and the exemption of BC Utilities Commission review of major public projects (including the smart meter implementation program) to increases in BC Hydro rates. He presented to the legislature a declaration of opposition to the Site C, as signed by Peace River area residents and First Nations.

    40th Parliament- while on the provincial campaign he promised a comprehensive review of BC Hydro, in particular its debt load, commitments to independent power producers, and future infrastructure requirements. The party again formed the Official Opposition with Horgan returning to his role as critic for the energy portfolio.**

    As for the 41st Parliament, Horgan and the NDP ran on a platform that included stopping Site C and fulfilling all new energy requirements by upgrading existing dams and through PowerBC looking to renewable, modern energy sources for future energy needs. They promised to bring investment in wind, solar and other clean energy projects back to BC.

    Site C is John Horgan’s dog. He adopted it as a rescue dog, knowing it was sick after watching it grow from a puppy. Now the illness is likely terminal, the dog is suffering, and the vet bills are massive.

    It’s time, John. Do the right thing.


  8. “Site C is John Horgan’s dog. He adopted it as a rescue dog, knowing it was sick after watching it grow from a puppy. Now the illness is likely terminal, the dog is suffering, and the vet bills are massive.

    “It’s time, John. Do the right thing.”

    So good, Lew! It bears repeating and sharing.


    • Your first paragraph is perfect and says it all Lew. Just what I believed all along. The rest follows in in superb form.


  9. I am of the opinion that liar Horgan and backstabbing Mungal and the ones in the know already had it set in secret that Site C would still go ahead right after they were elected. The steps for final decision making was eye and ear candy for us to think that they were going through a valid process of transparency. It was all one big pre rigged lie. Those buggers knew the dam would go ahead. I even think these schisters had it set before they were elected. A beautifully planned lie. I can imagine the behind closed doors discussions between Horgan’s inside circle and company of specials interests and powers that made sure Site C kept going without missing a beat.


  10. I’ve come to the opinion that Michelle Mungall was simply a placeholder, given a job with apparent importance but with little ability to actually affect policy.

    John Horgan told me he was particularly proud of appointing a woman to an “important economic post.” It soon became clear that decisions on energy matters were made in the Premier’s office.

    Mungall may be more a victim than a player.


    • After Mungal’s Photo Ops with the good people of Paddle for the Peace and her stance against the dam, makes me think she’s not just a victim but an active player, A smaller player, but a player never the less. She had the chance to step away and take the higher road on integrity, but didn’t. I think that makes her an active player. Her flip flop was was an awful thing. Still hope she gets the boot by the constituents. We’ll see. But politicians will be politicians.


  11. I appreciate the informed dialogue on the very good reporting Norm does here. It seems like its the only venue where people are concerned about the massive criminal mistake of Site C.

    Does anyone know if there is a law firm that would be interested in a class action lawsuit against BC Hydro and individuals in the government for breach of fiduciary duties?


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