BC Hydro

A spendthrift public utility

There is much written here about BC Hydro and 17 years of flat demand for electricity by the utility’s residential, commercial and industrial customers. Despite that, in the first quarter of fiscal year 2021-22, the volume of BC Hydro’s purchases of private power from IPPs increased 21% over the same period the year before.

Additions to property, plant and equipment and intangible asset by BC Hydro for the three months ended June 30, 2021 were $888 million.

Adding capacity is expensive. Purchasing 21% more private power is expensive, particularly when domestic demand is flat and excess power is being traded outside the province for a fraction of the price paid for private power.

To promote electrification, British Columbia needs low cost sources of power. These have been largely ignored by BC Hydro for the last decade. No better example than Revelstoke Generating Station Unit Six, which is the missing piece of this dam.

According to BC Hydro:

The Revelstoke Generating Station, completed in 1984, was designed to hold six generating units but only four units were installed when the facility was constructed.

The fifth generating unit was added and began service in 2010.

Revelstoke Generating Station produces, on average, about 7,817 gigawatt hours or roughly 15 per cent of the electricity BC Hydro generates each year. With the five generating units, Revelstoke Generating Station has a combined capacity of 2,480 megawatt…

Unit six was planned to provide an additional 500 MW capacity and cost was estimated at $582 million, or $1.2 million per megawatt. Compare to Site C, currently estimated at $14.6 million per megawatt of capacity.

Another interesting matter is that Revelstoke’s 7,817 GWh is created by existing capacity of 2,480 MW. That is 3.15 GWh per MW. BC Hydro estimates Site C will produce 4.64 GWh per MW, which is a production rate per unit of capacity almost 50% greater.

The empire builders of BC Hydro were determined to proceed with Site C, regardless of need, cost or far less expensive alternatives. The $16 billion project offers just too many opportunities for insiders and friends to fill their pockets with cash.

Categories: BC Hydro, Site C

7 replies »

  1. BC Hydro and BC Governments obstinance is remarkable and I expect it is fuelled by the big money that floats around when, probably, $20 Billion is being wasted building a dam we don’t need. The example of Powerex, that was privatized to sell the output of the IPPs, until the value of the power they produced became a fraction of what they needed to make their profit, stands out for me. But Site C is the greed magnet right now.

    The point that we could get twice as much power service from wind, conservation, and geothermal, for what Hydro still wants to spend at Site C, according to the BCUCs figures, is a show stopper.


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