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)

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.

BC legislatureSite C

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Bella Coola RCMP are alerting residents that the road between 4 Mile subdivision and downtown will be closed until at least tomorrow. (File image)
Winter storm closes 4 Mile to downtown road in Bella Coola

Police it will remain closed until Saturday, at least

The Bella Coola area also received a large dump of snow as seen here Friday, Nov. 27, but by the afternoon it had started to rain there. (submitted photo)
Update: More than 900 Bella Coola customers without power, expected to last overnight

Highway 20 remains closed between Anahim Lake and Bella Coola Friday, Nov. 27

More than 60 cm of snow has fallen at Ulkatcho First Nation since a snowfall warning went into effect Thursday, Nov. 26. (Ruby Squinas photo)
VIDEO: More than 60 cm of snowfall in Chilcotin since Thursday, Nov. 26

Graham West of Ulkatcho First Nation captures the scene on video

Heavy rainfall is expected through the region through today and into Friday (Caitlin Thompson photo)
High streamflow advisory issued for Bella Coola, Central Coast

The heaviest rain is expected Thursday night and into Friday and is expected to ease later Friday

Mary Cox and Jack Plant dance in their pyjamas and slippers at the morning pyjama dance during the Rhythm Reelers’ 25 Annual Rally in the Valley Square Dance Festival in Chilliwack on June 4, 2011. Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 is Square Dancing Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Nov. 29 to Dec. 5

Square Dancing Day, Disability Day and International Ninja Day are all coming up this week

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

114 Canadians were appointed Nov. 27 to the Order of Canada. (Governor General of Canada photo)
Indigenous actor, author, elder, leaders appointed to Order of Canada

Outstanding achievement, community dedication and service recognized

Screenshot of Pastor James Butler giving a sermon at Free Grace Baptist Church in Chilliwack on Nov. 22, 2020. The church has decided to continue in-person services despite a public health order banning worship services that was issued on Nov. 19, 2020. (YouTube)
2 Lower Mainland churches continue in-person services despite public health orders

Pastors say faith groups are unfairly targeted and that charter rights protect their decisions

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A big job: Former forests minister Doug Donaldson stands before a 500-year-old Douglas fir in Saanich to announce preservation of some of B.C.’s oldest trees, July 2019. (B.C. government)
B.C. returning to ‘stand-alone’ forests, rural development ministry

Horgan says Gordon Campbell’s super-ministry doesn’t work

Peter Wilson, left, and Micah Rankin, right, formed the Special Prosecutor team that was tasked with reviewing and litigating charges stemming from the Bountiful investigation. Trevor Crawley photo.
End of Bountiful prosecution wraps up decades of legal battles

Constitutional questions had to be settled before a polygamy prosecution could move forward

Alexandre Bissonnette, who pleaded guilty to a mass shooting at a Quebec City mosque, arrives at the courthouse in Quebec City on February 21, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mathieu Belanger - POOL
Court strikes down consecutive life sentences; mosque shooter has prison term cut

The decision was appealed by both the defence and the Crown

Gold medallists in the ice dance, free dance figure skating Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, of Canada, pose during their medals ceremony at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Charlie Riedel
Olympic champions Virtue, Moir and Tewksbury among 114 Order of Canada inductees

Moir and Virtue catapulted to national stardom with their gold-medal performances at the Winter Olympics in 2018

Most Read