Dokie Ridge wind farm near Chetwynd B.C. in 2010. B.C.’s existing wind energy is mostly near the Peace River dams in northeastern B.C. (Black Press files)

Site C allows more wind, solar energy, experts say

Lawyer, economist argue for completion of B.C. Hydro dam

The union group that has built B.C. Hydro dams since 1961 has made one more push to convince the John Horgan government to complete the Site C dam, releasing two reports by independent consultants making the case that it’s the best option for ratepayers.

Energy lawyer Jim Quail and energy economist Marvin Shaffer both concluded that the B.C. Utilities Commission underestimated the benefits of the third dam on the Peace River, and overestimated the performance of alternatives if the dam project is stopped. They argued that the commission overlooked Canada’s climate change commitment to price carbon emissions up to $50 a tonne, and the potential to sell power to Alberta as it phases out its coal-fired generation.

The commission was given a deadline of Nov. 1 to make recommendations to the B.C. government on how to proceed. Both criticized the commission’s idea of substituting wind, geothermal or other sources to meet growing electricity demand, and pointed to the likely increase in clean energy needed in a future where carbon taxes are heading higher.

Geothermal power is unproven in B.C. and the most significant issue for adding wind or other intermittent power is that there be sufficient backup when it isn’t producing, Quail said.

“A resource like [Site C] makes it possible to go much further when it comes to using wind power and other renewables,” he said.

Shaffer pointed out that the commission did not consider greenhouse gas emission effects for the dam, which has been under construction for two years and would cost an estimated $4 billion to shut down and restore the site near Fort St. John.

Shaffer calculated that shutting down Site C and then finding alternatives to replace its output would cost $1-2 billion more than completing it, even if its cost rises to $10 billion as the commission suggested it might.

Both experts noted that the previous B.C. Liberal government left a difficult situation by proceeding with the most expensive construction project in B.C. history without having the commission review it first.

“There’s nothing but bad news for ratepayers of the next few years under B.C. Hydro,” Quail said. “There’s all kinds of cost pressure. Which trajectory is less painful is the question.”

Chris Feller, president of the union group Allied Hydro Council of B.C., agreed.

“The new B.C. NDP government has been left a disturbing legacy by the former B.C. Liberal government, but now it has to make the best of it,” Feller said.

Premier John Horgan said Wednesday the cabinet is still gathering information to make a decision by the end of the year on proceeding. Deputy ministers of energy and finance have asked the utilities commission for technical details on B.C. Hydro debt and other issues.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

CN train derailment cleared between Terrace and Prince Rupert

The CN mainline is now open, following a train derailment mid-way between… Continue reading

Trial finishes for suspect in Burns Lake man’s murder

Closing submissions concluded at the Supreme Court in Prince George on July… Continue reading

Lightning starts nine small fires on July 5-7

Several wildfires started in the Northwest Fire Centre region over the July… Continue reading

Mill blast safety measures review ends

The government is wrapping up a review on how industries and other… Continue reading

Magician wows Burns Lake children

Magician Leif David entertained dozens of children in the Burns Lake Public… Continue reading

Rich the Vegan scoots across Canada for the animals

Rich Adams is riding his push scooter across Canada to bring awareness to the dog meat trade in Asia

B.C. VIEWS: NDP pushes ahead with Crown forest redistribution

This isn’t the time for a radical Indigenous rights agenda

Two dead in two-vehicle crash between Revelstoke and Golden

RCMP are investigating the cause of the crash

Ottawa fights planned class action against RCMP for bullying, intimidation

The current case is more general, applying to employees, including men, who worked for the RCMP

Alberta judge denies B.C.’s bid to block ‘Turn Off the Taps’ bill

He said the proper venue for the disagreement is Federal Court

Canadian high school science courses behind on climate change, says UBC study

Researchers found performance on key areas varies by province and territory

Six inducted into BC Hockey Hall of Fame

The 26th ceremony in Penticton welcomed powerful figures both from on and off the ice

RCMP investigate two shootings in the Lower Mainland

Incidents happened in Surrey, with a victim being treated at Langley Memorial Hospital

Most Read