BC Hydro

Campbell Clark Horgan madness

While British Columbia has policies to discourage additions of solar power to the provincial power grid, Germany has been moving forward on this form of renewable electricity.

Note the geographic centre of Germany is at a latitude similar to that of Kamloops.

Germany Sets Yearly Solar Power Record

BERLIN, Oct. 27, 2020 /CNW/ — (GTAI) German energy provider Eon says that since the beginning of the year solar energy facilities have fed some 43 billion kilowatt hours of electricity into the national grid. That’s already around one billion kilowatt hours more than in all of 2019 and enough to cover the electricity needs of all private households in Germany twofold…

Germany’s prestigious Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE) has also calculated that 2020 will be a record year for renewable energy in Germany. The institute says that from January through October renewables accounted for 52.5 percent of net public electricity production...

Germany Sets Yearly Solar Power Record

BC Hydro began feasibility studies for Site C in 1971. Ten years later, the company applied for a water licence to build the $1.95 billion (equivalent to $5.2 billion in 2020) Site C power project on the Peace River.

Progress was once stopped because regulator BCUC determined that BC Hydro’s demand forecasts were unreliable. In 1993, BC Hydro CEO Marc Eliesen said:

Site C is dead for two reasons. The fiscal exposure is too great… the dam is too costly. Also, it is environmentally unacceptable.

The project seemed dead until 2010 when Gordon Campbell announced Site C would proceed, even though promised discussions with affected indigenous people had not taken place.

If BC Hydro is lucky, the most costly megaproject in the province’s history will generate power by 2026 and the final budget will be under $13 billion. Since the utility and the provincial government are hiding financial information, $13 billion is likely an overly optimistic estimate.

Site C: fifty-five years from initiation to potential completion. Compare to the timeline of a typical utility-scale solar farm and remember, the costs of solar and hydro electricity have been trending in opposite directions. Hydro up; solar down.

Check out capital cost estimates of Canada Energy Regulator (ex-NEB) for wind and solar power.

If Site C is brought in for $13 billion, its capital cost will be $11,800 per kilowatt of capacity. However, there is a risk that unstable land will result in zero production of electricity.

The National Energy Board released Canada’s Energy Future 2018 (EF2018) report in October 2018, which projects Canada’s energy supply and demand out to 2040.

New in EF2018 are projections of the capital costs of utility scale wind and solar projects. In EF2018’s Reference Case, wind’s capital cost declines to C$1,200/kW by 2040, while solar declines to C$1,100/kW. In EF2018’s Technology case, capital costs decline faster, with wind falling to C$1,000/kW and solar falling to C$650/kW.

Costs decline for several reasons, including improved manufacturing efficiency, economies of scale, and lower installation costs as industry learns from experience.

EF2018’s Technology Case simply assumes technology improves faster than the Reference Case, resulting in a larger decline by 2040.

Categories: BC Hydro, Site C

19 replies »

  1. I think that a lot of people need to look at their day to days and ask themselves how does the corruption affect the future. There can’t be any other factor behind building a megadam that we don’t need, that the proponents knew would double or triple in budget from application, and may not be buildable.

    We have a need and a right to know what the Milburn report says, we have a need and a right to fairly discuss this in a public forum like the BCUC, and we have a need and a right to an open decision making process.


    • I don’t expect anything worthwhile from Peter Milburn.

      He is well schooled in management principles expressed by Sir Humphrey Appleby. This is one example:


      If the Horgan Government had any intention of changing the plan for Site C, they would have suspended construction until assurances were gained from independent engineers that completion and decades of productive operation were possible.

      Instead of asking opinions from outsiders, they asked Milburn, a man who was long at the centre of decision making in BC. A safe choice that pleased Site C proponents who benefit from the billions spent on this project.


  2. Maybe the reason that Site C is proceeding under the NDP is because of the deal that BC Liberals Campbell and Clark, and even going back so far as Bill Bennett’s and WAC’s, initial dream, to reward their insiders with lucrative contracts that BC Hydro has to adhere to.

    The potential IPP’s http://blogborgcollective.blogspot.com/2016/02/if-every-possible-independent-power.html

    More importantly why did Christy Clark start the process of Site C when there’s a wall of IPP potential just west of Fort St. John’s Site C

    Game plan for BC NDP for British Columbians is to finish Site C, cutting out IPPs exorbitant financial rewards.


    • Remember, some of those IPP contracts are longer than optimistic estimates of the life of Site C.

      I think the Peace River megaproject proceeds because of corporate inertia and timidity of unknowledgeable politicians who’ve been easily convinced that the sunk cost fallacy is itself fallacious.


  3. Horgan has the Milburn report right now. He is assembling a team of spin doctors to develop a plan to list a bunch of scapegoats and then cancel the dam. Right now, there is no safe way to build this dam (there never was) and it would end up creating the greatest disaster ever in BC. Unless there is a way to change the entire geology of the region, water will find a way around Site C and destroy the dam.

    Now, what do we do with the financial mess? Well, I propose that we set up a new company: BC Electric. This company owns the wires and the customer service but will not own any generation assets. Let BC Hydro carry all of the debt linked to the generation assets and BC Electric will handle the transmission and distribution of power. Customers can then buy electricity at the market rates (mid C) and just pay wheeling fees to BC Electric.

    BC Hydro (as an owner of only generation assets and debt) will not be solvent long. Most of the employees will have to be laid off and their pensions canceled. This is fair considering many employees have been negligent in protecting the public interest by not speaking out against projects like Site C. Chris O’Riley has his days numbered as he will be the prime target to scapegoat.

    Separating generation from the wires business is the only way to protect ratepayers from astronomical price increases. As informed citizens, we need to be open to this type of plan and not confuse it with privatizing BC Hydro. If BC Hydro and ICBC were to be sold right now, both corporations would have a net negative value…. no one wants to buy them, but we can cut off the leg before the whole body dies from gangrene.

    Liked by 1 person

    • To add some numbers to this idea of separating the Generation from the wires in BC, here is what the cost differences would be:

      For residential customers, the overall average cost in 2019 was 11.8cents/kwh for delivered power in BC. For transmission customers (Large Industrial) the cost in 2019 was $62.82/MWh.

      Under the new proposed system of paying for ‘delivery’ of power separately from energy, these would be the costs (using numbers from Alberta where the prices are separated as an estimate):

      For residential customers, delivery costs would be about 9cents/kwh and energy costs (based on Mid-C pricing) would be 3cents/kwh. This would result in a total cost of 12cents/kwh (slightly more than now).

      For transmission customers, the delivery cost would be $5-7/MWh (based on BC Hydro stated wheeling rates) and $30/MWh for energy (based on Mid-C). That would result in a total cost of up to $37/MWh.

      This means that residential customers would see an increase of about 1.7% on their bills and Large Industrial customers (who have been shutting down plants throughout BC and BC is unable to attract new large customers due to rates) would see a reduction of 40.3%!

      So the lesson from this is that transmission customers in BC are paying 40% more than similar customers in the Pacific Northwest. Remember this the next time you hear of a pulp mill closing in your town or when a large chemical plant stops their operation. This is also one of the reasons that BC has failed to attract any data centres involved in graphic rendering for the film industry. Some of our most innovative businesses, Carbon Engineering and General Fusion are both looking at setting up their pilot plants in Texas because BC’s electricity is too expensive… if these business solve the problems they aim to solve, they will become global companies and guess where they will set up their head office… probably right beside their first pilot plant.


  4. if anyone thinks that jh is running bc think again-the crooked corrupt corporations tell the bc govt of the day what to do and jh goes along with all-the crooked corruption going on at site is deploreable-the wild life habitat decimated by the destruction of the peace river valley is unreal–absolutly no intestinal fortitude to do whats right for bc and its people and its wildlife and habitat-all for crooked corrupt political and corporate greed-mark meiers-charlie lk bc


  5. Back in 2016 I had a 3kw solar system installed on my residential roof in Surrey. The cost to install the system was around $15,000. I didn’t make this investment to save money, but rather, I thought it was the environmentally right thing to do – I still believe this. You would think local governments and BC Hydro would be supportive of citizens taking the initiative to install solar power. This has not been the case. The City of Surrey was not supportive at all and created all kinds of red tape that added $1500 to the installation cost of my system.

    When my solar system was installed in 2016 the arrangement with BC Hydro included a provision that provided for any excess power to be purchased by BC Hydro at the same price they sold grid power to me. The calculation was done over a calendar year. A few years ago BC Hydro changed this arrangement so they only have to pay market rate (approx. $0.025/kwhr) for the excess power they are purchasing.

    BC Hydro is now in the process of going after individual solar energy producers again. Because we generate a lot of our own electrical power requirements they feel we are not paying our fair share of transmission costs and they want to find a way to squeeze more money out of solar energy producers. What BC Hydro fails to acknowledge is that the individual solar energy producer has already paid a substantial amount of money up front to install the solar system – in my case it was $15,000. They also fail to acknowledge that for every individual solar system installed it results in BC Hydro having to generate less electricity thereby delaying or eliminating the need for future generating infrastructure.

    I don’t understand the positions taken by either the City of Surrey or BC Hydro. They don’t make any sense to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The position does make sense if you consider that BC Hydro has too much generation capacity. If they can sell the power to residential customers, they get $120/MWh of added revenue. The less people use (or the more solar they generate) the more BC Hydro has to sell to the export market at only $30/MWh.

      The export market also has a surplus of generation on it at most times so no one wants to buy the power.

      The truth of the matter is home batteries to store power are a smarter use of capital in BC than solar panels. This should be supported by BC Hydro because they could make a more efficient grid. We don’t need any new generation in BC for the next 20 years (even solar). The only reason I would install solar is to avoid the astronomical rate increases that BC Hydro will have to charge to avoid bankruptcy in the future.


      • Unfortunately BC Hydro lost it’s way during the Gordon Campbell era – think Powerex & Enron. I believe BC Hydro’s mandate is to meet the electrical needs of the industry & citizens of British Columbia. For whatever reason, BC Hydro is now in the power export game as well. In fact, when Gordon Campbell proposed Site C back in 2010 the power generated by the dam was earmarked for export. We all know the power export market has collapsed so the BC government has had to re-purpose Site C several times – currently the power is to be used by LNG Canada at a tremendous discount which the ratepayers will have to cover.

        I believe BC Hydro’s strategy of concentrating power generation using hydro dams is reckless. Currently 35-40% of BC’s power comes from the Peace River dams. Site C will add an additional 15%. Should a geological or terrorist event occur in the Peace region the power could be knocked out to a large portion of BC. A distributed power generation system is a much more resilient way to go and involves a good proportion of roof top solar as Germany is doing. Norm Farrell makes this point above.


        • Very good point, distributed generation is much more robust and resilient to disruption.

          The key to resilience is energy storage and batteries can help the grid, solar producers and homeowners ride through disruptions.

          Right now, the wrongdoers in BC Hydro need to be outed and booted. We need people willing to recognize the real problems and apply science to solve the problems.

          Not sure if we can find those people that are needed before the utility succumbs to the death spiral.


    • Pat You are very perceptive. If it made any sense to you I would be concerned that you’re inept or corrupt, or both.
      I too invested in a 3.1 kw solar array, not so much for a cost saving but a token defiance to Chrispy’s inept/corrupt project.
      What blew me away was Hydro’s dictate that I was NOT permitted to install any more capacity than my previous years usage. What sort of mental midget came up with that plan!!!! They could have had me as an IPP for no cost to the system, but curtailed MY productivity and instead encouraged the high priced corporations to produce excess power at vast cost to the ratepayer! And they call themselves ‘Managers’. Mismanagers is more like it.


  6. As the debate about Site C rises from the manipulative to levels of dishonesty yet unseen in BC, this massive mega project is a testament of political hubris and dishonesty.

    Not only has Site C been planned on a foundation of quicksand, the “raison d’etre” for the dam is fast disappearing.

    The hard work by Norm, once again proves that the nincompoops in underpants are the mainstream media and diligent investigative work.

    The NDP and the Liberals have and are mega projecting this province to death, with politically prestigious projects, solely to cut ribbons in front of at election time.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. We are very fortunate in BC, we can watch the fallout of Site C in real time as we observe the fiasco of Muskrat falls.

    Wish the reporters would make the links to both Muskrat falls and Site C. Who benefits from these dams when the public loses? SNC Lavalin

    Who benefits from cost overruns? SNC Lavalin

    Wish we could just learn from the disaster in Newfoundland.


  8. Bob Marley said it best:

    “Oh, evil men
    Playing smart
    And not being clever? Oh no…

    If you are the big tree
    We are the small axe
    Sharpened to cut you down (well sharp)
    Ready to cut you down”


    • SNC Lavalin, through the proprietary SkyTrain system and the faux Canada line P-3, where SNC Lavalin leads the consortium operating the P-3, has placed their people throughout the BC’s hierarchy of post secondary government, civic, regional and provincial bureaucracies and the government.

      What is not known is that SNC Lavalin hold the engineering patents for the now called Movia Automatic Light Metro which is used on the Expo and Millennium Lines. Thus in one way or another will profit from the $4.6 billion, 12.8 km expansion, including the Broadway subway.

      SNC Lavalin inherited the patents from Lavalin, who briefly owned the proprietary railway, but soon went bankrupt trying to sell it to Bangkok.

      A former SNC Lavalin did due diligence for the Broadway subway.

      Bombardier hold the technical patents for MALM and may continue holding them after Alstom acquires Bombardier’s rail division in January. it makes good business sense to do so as they will make money from licensing fees for the proprietary railway.

      The Canada Line P-3 saw SNC Lavalin, bidding against SNC Lavalin, which the judge presiding over the Susan Heyes lawsuit against TransLink for business disruption on Cambie St., called the bidding process for the P-3 a “charade”.

      SNC Lavalin controls academics, bureaucrats, politicians, the news and reporters and I also suspect the courts.

      Does anyone remember the $1 million dollars found in a duffel bad in Clinton park? Wasn’t drug money, wasn’t extortion money, wasn’t kidnapping money, which leaves bribe money!


      Where is the mainstream media?

      Where are the RCMP?

      We all know how Trudeau stands in line with SNC, but so do the Conservatives and the NDP.

      Canada has morphed into a massive Tammany Hall, where everyone in power gets one’s back scratched.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Norm – thank you for your reporting and stories. However, in this case the per kW cost is not based upon peak power, 1100 MW, but on average power. Thus the $11,800 you state is much too low, because the annual output of 5100 (if correct!) / 8764 = 58% plant factor x 1100 MW = 640 average MW. Thus the cost per kW is actually $20,300! And BC Hydro is the selling this for a couple of hundred dollars – the difference between 200 amp service and 400 amp service for huge houses!


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