The high-priced help at BC Hydro and the provincial government decided benefits of low-costs should never be wasted on consumers. To ensure it was not, the utility signed decades-long deals with private power companies to buy electricity generated by wind turbines. The contracts contained inflation escalators and were designed to be unbreakable. Rather than paying $25 to $40 per MWh, British Columbia’s public utility was far more generous to private power suppliers…
For personal use in urban areas, electric vehicles are clearly in our immediate future. But not everyone lives in a place where battery charging is a simple affair. Fast charging stations are costly to build, damaging to batteries, and may be expensive to use, drawing power at times of peak demand.
When an industry is on a path to extinction, private investors exit and governments often step in, spending huge dollars that merely delay the inevitable. We should not allow that to continue happening in Canada.
While John Horgan’s government was almost doubling the Site C budget to C$16 billion, the Biden administration was getting ready to approve a C$3.4 billion wind project off the coast of Massachusetts. The per megawatt cost of the wind project is less than 30% of Site C’s capital cost per megawatt and it destroys no farmland, violates no Indigenous rights agreements, and presents no threats to nearby communities…
I understand why people gaining direct financial rewards support the Peace River megaproject. But it is harder to explain why rational and, we hope, honest cabinet ministers stay attached to a hazardous hydropower project when less expensive, less damaging options are available. Perhaps the refusal to admit error is explained by Dr. Guy Winch, writing in Psychology Today…
Years from now, after physical frailty or political transience has ensured John Horgan’s removal from the cabinet meeting room, a political opponent or a savvy journalist will definitively explain Premier Horgan’s about-face on energy matters.
Unrestrained capital spending and needed write-offs of valueless items will result in major rate increases. But that presents a critical problem. Alternatives for consumers are steadily getting easier and less costly. BC Hydro is entering the utility death spiral.
Years ago, the head of BC Hydro said the least-cost solutions to energy needs were conservation and efficiency. While that remains true, recovery of energy now wasted would be advantageous. Alpha 311 now offers a vertical axis wind turbine that can produce electricity by harvesting energy produced by moving vehicles.
The BC Government could have learned from hydropower disasters in Newfoundland and Labrador and Manitoba as those were unfolding. Spending went out of control on Muskrat Falls and Keeyask. Because NL has only about 10% of BC’s population, the federal government had to step in to avoid ruinous electricity rate increases. BC could have learned. It did not, because political and private interests ranked ahead of the public’s.
No one doubts that in coming decades, demand will grow, partly fueled by electric vehicles. But that growth will be more modest than claimed by BC Hydro’s agents. It could be easily met by conservation and efficiency programs, upgrades to existing facilities and creation of clean, non destructive renewable sources.
Stop, go, yes, no! NDP Cabinet Minister Murray Rankin wants to be on both sides of a vital issue. He congratulates University of Victoria students for partial success after an eight-year campaign asking the university to adopt responsible investment policies that exclude fossil fuels. Yet, Rankin sits at the Cabinet table of a government making massive investments for the benefit fossil fuel producers.
You can safely bet politicians and bureaucrats use the latest computers and communication devices and regularly view high-definition smart TVs that replaced smaller screens weighing one or two hundred pounds. Despite knowing about short lifespans in the world of high-tech, decision makers have not used their modern tools to learn how energy technologies have shifted radically as well.
In British Columbia and other western provinces, we will soon be working to reshape the economy. Now is a perfect time to commit to reduced production of fossil fuels and move vigorously toward a clean energy economy. Instead of public relations campaigns, we need action. Real action.
Today, Premier Horgan gave Energy Minister Michelle Mungall a new job, replacing her with Bruce Ralston. I am encouraged, anticipating (perhaps naively) that leadership of the department responsible for BC Hydro and […]
July 30, Stephen Colbert interviewed Jacob Soboroff and Katy Tur, presenters of American Swamp, a four-part docuseries on MSNBC about government corruption. They talk about politics in the USA but Canadians ought not to feel superior or complacent because our governments are constructed of the same timber.
“Because, if they do do something, they run the risk of angering a special interest or a big donor and those special interests or donors will spend money on getting them out of office. So, they sit there and twiddle their thumbs.”
Wasting money on destructive energy projects makes zero sense when there are better alternatives. British Columbia is spending billions on Site C. It could suspend the project today and have less harmful and cheaper sources of clean power operational by the time more electricity is needed.
The province won’t now admit that solar power potential is huge and economical. If they did, voters would wonder why BC Hydro is borrowing $11 billion, destroying valuable farmlands and breaking promises to indigenous people, just to reward political friends. If BC had a Press Gallery or an Official Opposition that cared a damn about the public interest, Site C would be a giant issue. Sadly, wildfires and property taxes on multi-million dollar mansions are more important.
A two-year look at the monthly travel expenses of one of BC’s senior public servants.
“Conservation is the cleanest, easiest and least expensive way to meet the increasing demand for electricity in B.C. – it’s like building a virtual dam.” – Bob Elton, BC Hydro President and […]
…The changeability of the future suggests to us that megaprojects are becoming less of a credible answer. They are a huge capital drain and carry a great deal of financial risk.
…We also know, better than ever before, that no means of generating electricity is environmentally benign. Hydroelectric dams can flood large areas of land and can impact aboriginal people and their lifestyles. Fossil-fuelled generation creates sulphur dioxide, nitric oxide, carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases that impact global warming and deplete the ozone layer…
One even more significant source of “supply,” in one sense of the word, is demand management or energy conservation — and it has dramatically fewer or nil environmental effects.
…demand management is much more than a good deal for the environment. It’s also a great business deal for Hydro’s customers. Furthermore, this is not a bridge or a “quick fix” until the next supply stations can be built…