Why is BC Hydro blocking a renewable revolution?

Local communities could generate affordable, clean power – and free themselves from fossil fuels. To an energy monopoly, that’s a threat.

In the New York Times bestseller Drawdown, groundbreaking research by one of the best scientific teams ever assembled concluded that if we act right now, we have both the time and technology to stabilize our deteriorating climate. Despite the battles we’ve lost, a big reason for their conditional optimism is readily available renewable energy.

There’s an assumption B.C. is powered by ‘clean’ hydro, but the reality is most of the energy we use is fossil fuel: gasoline, diesel, natural gas and furnace oil. Electrifying transport and buildings is our biggest opportunity to cut emissions. It could save households thousands of dollars a year, and create an army of good-paying local jobs. 

But it will require a lot more juice. A pressing question is: do we rely on last century’s destructive meg dam model to create it? If we don’t build new renewable capacity quickly, we could find ourselves charging electric cars with coal power purchased from Alberta or Wyoming. 

But rather than encourage people trying to generate clean, local electricity, BC Hydro is cancelling existing contracts and trying to kill new projects in the cradle. 

The urgent case for renewables

Globally, renewable energy is a game-changer for our climate. In free market settings, it now outcompetes conventional fossil-fuel generation systems like coal-fired or continuous cycle gas turbines. Since power generation is the single largest source of GHGs on the planet, making the switch to clean energy drastically reduces emissions while stimulating local economies.

In western Canada, a drop in the cost of photovoltaic cells means large-scale solar farms and rooftop solar are now the most affordable forms of new power. That’s led more than 2,000 B.C. households to join BC Hydro’s net metering program – where customers use ‘smart’ meters to connect solar panels on their roof to the grid, earning a credit on their bill that slowly offsets the cost of the equipment.

It’s a start. But without accessible financing, tax credits or other incentives, most families can’t afford the up-front cost of solar panels. And now BC Hydro is trying to stifle the net metering program, complaining that some customers are generating too much clean power. Yes, you read that right: too much! 

The fight for Indigenous utilities

Meanwhile, Indigenous communities are leading the way in developing ambitious and affordable clean power projects. But BC Hydro has been indifferent at best, and in some cases actively hostile.

The Tsilhqot’in Nation recently cut the ribbon on a new 1.25 megawatt solar farm west of Williams Lake. Built on an old sawmill site, the project employed an all-Tsilhqot’in construction crew and will provide steady revenue to the nation once BC Hydro flips the switch.

It’s one of five Indigenous-owned projects announced by BC Hydro in 2018, before it abruptly cancelled its Standing Offer Program. Since then, First Nations have had to use whatever leverage they have with the province to negotiate one-off electricity purchase agreements. 

The Upper Nicola Indian Band got BC Hydro to agree to buy power from its solar project near Merritt, but only because the utility wanted to build a major transmission line through the community. The Fort Nelson First Nation is now pursuing a geothermal project with a special permit from the province. But other communities have had the door slammed in their face.

Sacrifice and loss

The desire to improve people’s lives and fight climate change inspired Ktunaxa energy champion Marty Williams to propose a large scale solar farm in his home community of ʔaq̓am – a project he’s been working on for more than 10 years. I listened to his story while attending Clean Energy BC’s Generate 2019 conference. I’ll be interested to know if you feel the same conflicting emotions of inspiration and anger after you hear it.

Ktunaxa territory stretches across the East Kootenays. It’s an almost indescribable place comprising broad valleys and high peaks with beautiful intermontane plains. It’s where the Columbia, the most important river west of the Great Divide, originates. It’s part of the breadbasket comprising British Columbia’s hydro-electric generation system. Half of all the electrical power produced in B.C. comes from the Columbia system.

British Columbians have derived huge benefits from, and may even feel a sense of pride in, the tremendous amount of stored hydro power we control. That’s probably because it didn’t cost us our land or livelihoods. When we travel through the valleys of the Columbia we see majestic lakes, huge slow-moving rivers and impressive dams. First Nation’s elders like Marty see underwater graves, flooded village sites, unuseable hunting territories and rivers without salmon.

A chance for climate justice

The proposed 26 megawatt Ktunaxa solar farm could be an affordable source of renewable power twenty times the size of anything built so far in the province. ʔaq̓am has a construction partner signed and ready to go. They’ve selected a site and completed an archeological survey. The project would sit under power lines already running across the reserve. But BC Hydro refuses to sign.

Adding insult to injury, a visiting bureaucrat told the community at ʔaq̓am they should scale their project down. To dream small. And maybe, they said, hook up some solar panels to the local casino. This in a year when reservoirs across B.C. were low (proving to be a recurring phenomenon) and we imported $55 million worth of dirty energy to make up the shortfall. 

All the Ktunaxa are asking for is a chance to generate the power needed to tackle the climate crisis, which threatens us all. A chance to employ their people in economic development opportunities that don’t pollute or destroy their territory. The flippant response from our government makes my blood boil.

Fiddling while Rome burns

A couple of weeks before she was replaced by Bruce Ralston, energy minister Michelle Mungall was overheard musing that independent power was on the run and, if we really did need solar in B.C., we could trade California for it. 

Mungall’s backwards take is galling. A joint UVic/ UBC/Oregon State study released last fall confirms we’ll need twice our current generating capacity to make the transition to electric transportation. With electric car adoption rates in B.C. already surging, I think the government is underestimating the public’s desire to be part of the solution. 

Politicians are not alone in this regressive attitude. We are also up against the entrenched power of BC Hydro, whose monopoly allows it to dictate how energy is produced in the province. The corporation’s mandate is to make as much money as it can today – not plan for the climate crisis. That’s why they’re swapping hydro power for dirty coal power from Idaho, while refusing to buy energy from local communities.

There’s also immense bureaucratic inertia. The top executives at Hydro and its energy trading arm, Powerex, are the highest paid and most powerful civil servants in the province. They are fully entrenched in the status quo. That needs to change. 

It’s time for the people of B.C. to start taking back decision-making power over our energy future.

The fight for Local Power

When local communities are partners in creating new power, our grid not only becomes more resilient – it becomes more democratic. Investing in solar panels on your roof does more than power your car. It feeds the money currently swallowed by behemoths like Exxon to local tradespeople.

Now, if utility-scale Indigenous power were to start replacing the fracked gas we use to heat our buildings, B.C.’s future only gets brighter. Why wouldn’t we join with Indigenous communities fighting for climate justice and local power: they’re the ones leading the charge.

The Ktunaxa, Tsilhqot’in, Nlaka’pamux, Nuu-chah-nulth, Tahltan, Dunne-za, Cree: these are people whose land B.C. invaded, pillaged and flooded to build the old economy. Yet they are offering to help us make the transition because our collective futures depend on it. 

We have the technology to do what we need. What we lack is the political will. Or more accurately, we lack an organized constituency willing to battle the powerful interests that stand in our way. That’s why Dogwood is building a new Local Power campaign. To kickstart the renewable revolution by removing obstacles to community-driven clean electricity generation all over B.C.

When local people take control of their own energy, emissions go down and opportunities go up. This is how to grow our democracy – and slow the kleptocracy. It’s time to get to work rewiring our communities so we can free ourselves from fossil fuels and strengthen our communities for what’s to come.

58 Responses to “Why is BC Hydro blocking a renewable revolution?”

  1. ExoRank.com says:

    Awesome post! Keep up the great work! 🙂

  2. Charlie Appleford says:

    Thank you for the informative post. I was wondering what was happening with the buy back program. I was aiming to invest in 90 solar panels but was swayed.

    • Dave Mills says:

      Hi Charlie – there’s too much happening to summarize in one comment. Short story is BC Hydro is asking the Utilities Commission to make their roll-backs to the Net Metering program permanent. We’re fighting them on that. A new action will be coming from us. Expect a decision from the Utilities Commission some time this Spring. In the meantime feel free to get in touch by email and I can provide more information – dave@dogwoodbc.ca

  3. John Evans says:

    Well done article! This is part of required action as obviously Horgans Govt has been captured and powerful bureaucrats are part of problem

  4. Randal Hadland says:

    Two of the major issues facing the Province in this regard are Hydros continued stubborn construction destruction in the Peace River valley at site c, and conservation/efficiency. With the latter we do not need either the former, or a rapid installation of massive amounts of any seriously clean electricity. And with Site C we have a massive surplus that Hydro would have to sell off at about 30 cents on the dollar of construction costs.

  5. There are a couple of issues with this that needs to be considered. The first is Site C. a proposed dam on the Peace River which Hydro is currently spending billions of dollars trying to stabilize the 700 foot high banks of the Peace River valley in an effort to build so that it can have more surplus to sell cheap to LNG, the Tar sands, Alberta, or California, or whoever else could be talked into buying at a rate payer subsidized cost.

    And the second is conservation/ efficiency and Hydros own studies show that we already have a surplus equal to 4 or 5 Site Cs. We don’t need large amounts of seriously clean electricity, and Site C is similar to the other dams the article mentions in that it isn’t clean, and should be stopped. But we should be doing some development work with wind and solar and geothermal and tidal etc. so that when the time comes that we do need more electricity we can bring those small dispatchable alternatives on stream faster than building a white elephant.

  6. Aashima says:

    BRAVO….let’s start by starting by picking a month to not pay our hydro bill.

  7. rogerbryentonearthlinknet says:

    This article is VERY misleading. WE do not need massive amounts of new or additional electricity. Yes -small amounts incrementally. Look at the BCHydro Ratepayers page on Facebook, with the file “At least 12 Alternatives” to site C. There is about 4 to 5 times the Site C output at 1/4 to 1/2 the cost of Site C, with way more jobs! The UVIc and UBC study has not thoroughly examined this topic. Add solar and wind as needed. Add geothermal as needed. Conservation at 1/10th the cost of Site C! I can send the file to you, write roger.bryenton@earthlink.net 360 224-8235

    • Dave Mills says:

      Hi Roger – thanks for writing. Are you challenging the premise of a peer-reviewed paper produced by academics from UVic, UBC and Oregon State that attempts to quantify how much more power we’ll need to electrify all transport (not to mention heating or cooling, which was not calculated) or are you suggesting that electrification of the economy is not required? I’m unclear.

  8. L.M. Barrett says:

    Umm, Dave… I encourage you to take a second look at Site C and the volumes of critiques of BC Hydro produced by Randal Hadland and others like Laila Yuile.
    The $12 – 15 Billion (and rising) Site C dam business case is predicated on presumed energy demands from the highly subsidized, inefficient, water polluting, earthquake inducing and energy intensive fracking industries, including the proposed refineries.

    If we focus on stopping the fracking, re-assigning the subsidies to clean renewables and energy conservation, we’ll be that much closer to mitigating this climate crisis.

    The BC NDP’s been using the e-vehicle excuse as some sort of ‘green’ reason to bolster their fatally flawed rationale for Site C. Electric cars are still private cars – requiring all the same expensive, carbon intensive infrastructure as fossil fuel cars.

    Dogwood should be thinking beyond the bandaid approach. We need systems change.

  9. Lisa Barrett says:

    Umm, Dave… I encourage you to take a second look at Site C and the volumes of critiques of BC Hydro produced by Randal Hadland and others like Laila Yuile.
    The $12 – 15 Billion (and rising) Site C dam business case is predicated on presumed energy demands from the highly subsidized, inefficient, water polluting, earthquake inducing and energy intensive fracking industries, including the proposed refineries.

    If we focus on stopping the fracking, re-assigning the subsidies to clean renewables and energy conservation, we’ll be that much closer to mitigating this climate crisis.

    The BC NDP’s been using the e-vehicle excuse as some sort of ‘green’ reason to bolster their fatally flawed rationale for Site C. Electric cars are still private cars – requiring all the same expensive, carbon intensive infrastructure as fossil fuel cars.

    Dogwood should be thinking beyond the bandaid approach. We need systems change.

    • Dave Mills says:

      Hi Lisa, your feedback is appreciated. I can assure you we are not thinking about bandaid solutions. We’re reconciling two truths. Truth one is government will not decarbonize (they will continue developing oil and gas.) Truth two is the things people can most easily decarbonize are how they get around, and how they heat/cool their spaces. Local Power is about re-connecting energy and democracy. When communities create their own clean power they invalidate “we won’t be getting off oil and gas anytime soon.” And they gain some independence from powerful energy monopolies. This diffuses the power energy lobbyists hold over politicians. I think a local shift like this can create social pressure – the kind that leads to it being unacceptable to drive a diesel truck into the centre of a town. I think we’ll get their quicker by showing we can live free of oil and gas than by fighting captured governments over their poor policy decisions.

  10. gmorfitt says:

    Hi, I’m in the renewable energy business, and appreciate this article getting the word out!
    A few notes… The Net Metering program (projects under 100kW, which includes all residential rooftops due to available space for solar modules) currently stands as: you can generate only as much as you consume on an annual basis. They will bank your over production from month-to-month and apply it to future shortfalls, but want the annual total to balance with your consumption. Their argument is that the NM program was never intended to be like the standing offer program. The other issues are that if you do have a credit balance at the end of your year, then they want to reduce your payout rate from the current 9.99cents/kWh to the variable wholesale rate (usually around 3-5 cents). One good note is that they would like everyone’s NM account anniversary dates to be March 1, which makes the accounting much easier, & allows you to bank credits for maximum consumption offset, regardless of when you install your system.
    So, go ahead and install enough panels to offset your consumption!
    You can always add batteries later and go off-grid (with grid back-up if you want) if you don’t like future changes to their program. It’s fairly easy to create an off-grid system that’s still able to buy power from Hydro if/when needed, but never sells back to them… you don’t need any approval for such a system from them – just the normal electrical inspection for code.

    • Dave Mills says:

      Good points gmorfitt. The perfect is the enemy of the good, and as you point out there are lots of people out there saving money on their hydro bills and filling up their own electric vehicles. We’ll do our best to make that reality more accessible. More to come on this soon.

  11. Mike Anderson says:

    What happens when our transmission lines burn up or are otherwise compromised ? We have all our eggs in 2 baskets Columbia and Peace.

  12. Guy Dauncey says:

    As I understand it, the simple reason why BC Hydro does not want more clean power is that they are generating more than we use, and every excess kWh that they have to pay 10 cents for, they have to sell at the border for 3 cents.

    As the climate transition gets underway, absolutely we will need more clean energy, but right now, we have a surplus, so new solar PV displaces existing wind or hydro power, not fossil fuels.

    The power trading that PowerEx does is a bit of a red herring, since the net difference between imported and exported power is around 2%. If Site C was not being built, the time when new solar would be needed would be much sooner, but – if it ever gets completed, and personally I hope it doesn’t – that’s a further big excess of non-fossil-fuel power.

  13. Patricia Fleming says:

    Excellent article, I especially dislike the stranglehold bc hydro has on us. Would. Love to see more individual production.

  14. Jacqueline White says:

    Money, it’s always comes down to money. BC Hydro stands to lose money when people start going to clean power such as solar panels. Greed always stands in the way of progress.

  15. Lawrence Melanson says:

    Maybe I’m a stick in the mud here but doesn’t this open up Hydro to privatization? I saw what that did to utility prices in Alberta firsthand and personally can’t afford such a burden again. High insurance and electricity prices were what brought me back to BC where I can still afford them.

    • Dave Mills says:

      That’s a fair question and a legitimate concern. We’re going to need a lot more clean power and our public utility with all its assets should remain firmly in public hands. However, if you think of the entire energy economy most of it is already privatized. Consider this: When you fill up your gas tank or turn on your furnace you are using energy from a private provider (Chevron, Fortis etc.) If you do that in B.C. the economic output from that decision mostly leaves the province. How would it look if we switched that out to community-generated renewables? Where would the economic output land? What would happen to our local emissions?

  16. nweddy says:

    Elephant in the room: How to solve problem of energy storage when sun not shining and/or wind not blowing and/or no geothermal source nearby. We have 27 solar panels (and a Tesla) with net metering at the moment, but does net metering solve the problem sustainably?

    • Dave Mills says:

      Hi nweddy – storage – we have some of the world’s largest batteries in our legacy reservoirs. That’s how I see our storage challenges being solved – at least until battery tech catches up. As for sustainably switching to electric – it would be best if government were to lead the charge with mass electric transit for all. In the meantime, I’m sure the kids walking to school appreciate that there are no emissions traveling from your car to their lungs.

  17. Tom Pater says:

    Thanks for the good piece, Dave. In case you missed seeing this: how a small town dramatically increased the installation of solar panels for homes and businesses —


    • Dave Mills says:

      Really good piece Tom. There’s clearly ways to make accessing renewable energy easier. Stay tuned – we have some thoughts on making that a reality in B.C.

  18. Tony Brumell says:

    Great article.WE (BC and Canada ) are way behind the 8 ball.And BC hydro AKA John Horgan is actually making things worse. Site C, TMX ,gas fracking and coastal gas pipeline through unceeded first nations lands (after passing rules (UNDRIP) that say we can no longer screw F/N like that ) Silkotine and w’etsuwetan are prime examples.
    I don’t believe that BC uses or needs all the energy it develops.Is BC Hydro “grounding” large amounts of electricity that could be used to recharge vehicle batteries ? And then they buy dirty electricity from whoever to replace it .This keeps the coal buisness and Trump happy.
    There are so many ways of producing clean ,cheap electricity that also produces clean long term employment that it’s hard to understand why Horgan and Trudeau keep fighting the climate change mitigation scenario. They both seem to be under the thumbs of the corporations.
    We need new leaders who understand and actually care about a sustainable .equitable future for everybody.

  19. Ted Hopkins says:

    I remain baffled as to why British Columbia makes no effort to tap into our vast geothermal potential, following New Zealand and Iceland’s examples. After all, we share a place on the Circle of Fire with NewZealand. Somewhere or another I read a suggestion that, in addition to a bountiful energy source, if we drew enough energy by deep geothermal, we could actually preclude “the big one.”

  20. Hugh McNab says:

    good news format. keep up your good work.
    I think the only thing which will bring a change of attitude in the political elite are prison sentences for about 6 former Liberal Ministers, or some kind of restorative justice.
    The NDP just go along with the previous corruption to save face about their colleagues?
    Anyone remember the fraud in the House? The money laundering scam going on for 10 years inflating house prices?
    Its not in the mainstream news, or the Mount Polley Mine disaster.
    Its what isn’t said defines the news.
    I wish there was some other way forward but for the life of me I can’t see an alternative.

  21. Derrick says:

    BCHydro refuses to consider pumped hydro energy storage, the #1 energy storage method on the planet. Pumped hydro energy storage involves pumping water from the downside of a dam back up to the dam reservoir, rather than just have ‘run of the river’ power generation. Pumped hydro is an obvious seasonal energy storage mechanism to use renewable energy sources (solar, wind, tidal). Since BC is blessed with so many hydro dams, pumped hydro is a natural fit for the province.

  22. fb1234 says:

    Incredible article! Let’s ensure this information is shared widely and broadly because the only way we will have positive change is by force. The people need to stand up to those few preventing change and force them.

  23. Dan Kells says:

    Dogwood, like all NGOs, will have to pick and choose their battles. The decision to campaign for local and clean power is a powerful choice. The corporate influences backing BC Hydro’s choices are leading us down the wrong path – electricity for fracking, flooding of valuable land, huge and vulnerable electrical grids, etc. It is disheartening to hear of low cost solar, wind and geothermal coming online in other parts of the world while we sit here stuck in a 1950 frame of mind. We require the citizens of BC to have a say in how we power our society in the 21st Century in a way that does not destroy our ultimately fragile environment!

  24. Karl Maier says:

    This is a smart campaign and should be winnable. Ticks all the boxes. Are you worried about demonizing the people you need to convince?

    I suggest arguing that power demand and supply forecasts are just that – forecasts – and can be wrong. Better to have more and more diversified energy supply in BC than risk not having enough.

    Also one of the justifications for the smart meter program was to allow home net metering?

  25. Mark Mealing says:

    Surely locally owned & managed Green power sources are advantageous for BC Hydro too, supplementing their existing & all too often failed transmission. & how much less expensive financially, socially & environmentally than that idiotic Site C white elephant! Alas, sanity is not currently in fashion….

  26. BC Hydro is owned by a foreign business oligarchy that is only interested in profits and not interested in the well being of BC residents.

  27. Douglas Jackson says:

    It matters not if on the one hand hand BC Hydro continues to invest in destructive clean energy Mega hydro electric projects while on the other hand spending billions of tax payer and rate payer dollars on CO2 generating LNG   derived from fracking, which could be causing future environmental hazards as of yet, unknown to us.

    As far as Powerex is concerned, under the previous Liberal government “Powerex will pay $273 million US in cash and offer California electric utilities a credit worth $477 million US to settle claims against it related to allegations that it helped inflate the California power market during that state’s electricity market crisis of 2000 and 2001.”

    Powerex in their greedy feeding frenzy cost this province three quarters of a billion tax payer dollars but I doubt they  gave up two cents of their exorbitant salaries for their underhanded usury dirty dealings. Having a gang of Liberal thieves representing this province was a disgrace to us all. 

    What is the greatest threat to our future? Backward thinking politicos unable to move away from the same old same old or the future results of their inability to stimulate a future economy based upon common sense?  That was trick question, they are one and the same.

    I believe the greatest threat to our province, the country and the planet on a whole are those voters that vote party specific because that is how they’ve always voted. So if you like the thought of more of the same continue to support the very same governments that got you to where you’re standing right now, wondering if your children have a future. 

  28. jon boy says:

    Like other renewables that rely on weather, solar is held back by its “capacity factor”, essentially how often it is producing electricity. What does this mean for competitive energy cost of solar?
    A coal. oil or natural gas fired power station runs at 70-80% capacity. In northern Europe or Canada, solar panel capacity factor is just 15%. This reduces its competitiveness significantly.

  29. Peter Nix says:

    BC Hydro spews out many myths to justify a poor business model that produces high cost energy (Site C) and has hidden debts that the public will have to pay. If they recognized the huge hazards of climate change to the public which they are supposed to serve, they would revamped their business model to one that manages an energy grid allowing inflows of renewable energy from multiple sources such as solar.

  30. Dan says:

    Much daylight and temperature plus no school june + July great 2 months not to pay bill…

  31. Marianne Rev says:

    Thank you for your informative article. The following is really worth reading.


  32. Rick Habgood says:

    If the FN’s or a community owns the solar farm outright, without private industry’s help, then they should be able to connect to the grid and sell the extra to us. Horgan has said that he’s against private industry controlling renewable energy and selling it to the Province. I agree with him. Our renewable power should be totally controlled by the public and not some corporation whose main purpose is to make money. If FN’s need help then the Province should be the one to help them, not some private corporation borrowing from a wall street bank.

  33. Nick Pasara says:

    If everyone in B.C.thinks that they are paying alot for hydro, just wait until that build that dam.They have rebuilt dams here in ontario and we are paying the highest hydro rates in Canada. What goes up never goes down. Remember its all about wealth and greed.

  34. Sheryl Walker says:

    Very interesting, especially considering the history of BC Hydro and the sell off of that public Utility during the “Liberal Gov” time. It was clean power back then that the employees were very proud of, and whose large profit went into Public funds. Unfortunately we can’t turn back the clock!!! That was before most of us were VERY worried about climate change. Why is ………..not promoting individual solar panels and making them affordable. We do have many p[laces where there is lots of sun in this province. Not in my area at this time of year however. And if we have another bad fire season we won’t have in the summer either!!! It’s easy to feel very ‘sunless’ and gloomy!

    • Dave Mills says:

      Hi Sheryl,

      You are not alone in feeling gloomy. Hang in there! Look, community solar is not perfect. We’re NOT advocating that BC Hydro return to the days of attempted privatization. However – lots of B.C. gets more than enough sun, and lots of B.C. gets plenty of wind. Our new sources of clean power, which will compliment our legacy Hydro projects, should come from these sources. They are the most affordable. We believe our democracy will improve if First Nations who are ready to deliver clean power projects are given equal access to the grid (and therefore the economy) and if people are allowed to decarbonize (replace the private energy they use a.k.a oil/gas) by creating their own power. Hope this helps!. For an inspiring story check out Peace Energy Co-op up in Hudsons Hope (at 56 degree latitude!!) https://peaceenergy.ca/hudsons-hope-community-solar-initiative-and-peace-energy-cooperative/

  35. Ken Caldwell says:

    I was considering going whole house solar, so I bought a couple large panels and a outback mpv controller. I even mounted them on a rotating base. Mid April to mid September was great. By Dec 22 I was getting 10% of my June 21 power. People have to take the sun’s power into consideration when considering solar power. Arizona is great but north of the 49th parallel not so good in the winter.
    I don’t know about the aboriginal contracts, but if Indian Affairs has to put money in, I think it is just too expensive. The only place I have seen that has potential solar generation in BC is the grass land area W of Osoyoos. I believe that is impossible now, parks are great but there is always a cost to humans getting what they want.
    The only way to help our planet is to drastically reduce our use of everything. Starting with air travel and cruising, then anything manufactured.
    Good luck, mother earth. Selfish people everywhere.
    Ken Caldwell

  36. Douglas Jackson says:

    BC Hydro is a Crown corporation, owned by the government and people of British Columbia. I’m not sure who owns the government.

  37. mark meiers says:

    crooked corrupt bc hydro does not want any competition in the electrical generation field–nevada in the usa had the same problem as warren buffett owns nevada power and they had a hammer lock on the average consumer producing power via rooftop solar-nevada has the most sunshine of any state in the usa–took 2 years for the people to get the nevada solar consumer bill of rights signed into law to produce solar power -now they can use rooftop solar and get paid for it–need to do the same in bc and break crooked corrupt bc hydro,s monopoly on this issue-its the big crooked corrupt corporation that run bc and the govt-mark meiers charlie lk bc

  38. Keith McNeill says:

    I support small-scale electrical power projects in B.C. However, how we can avoid the boondoggle that the earlier support for run-of-the-river projects turned into?

    • Dave Mills says:

      Hi Keith, good question. There are a few ways to protect taxpayers from the IPP boondoggle you refer to. First, the price of renewables like Solar and Wind have dropped substantially. If for example Indigenous communities who have proposed projects at the ready we’re called upon to deliver public power in a manner similar to the past, the costs would be much lower. For evidence, reference the private open market in Alberta where wind outcompeted all other projects: https://www.alberta.ca/release.cfm?xID=511572D67D28E-C09C-E3E6-BA37A772B4C34AF6 Second, there are currently 2,400 Net Metering customers who have built their own energy systems without any public funding. Smart meters connect them to the grid. Some of them produce a surplus. If we can move much quicker on building code adjustments for all new builds and maintain fair incentives for Net Metering customers we’re well on our way to creating Micro Grids. Microgrids which do not draw on central power can create more energy than they use – see https://www.drawdown.org/solutions/electricity-generation/microgrids. If the right type of climate action financing programs are brought in, many people in B.C. can eliminate a sizable portion of their utility bill, freeing our legacy systems up to power the big cities and large industries.

  39. Sandra says:

    How is BC Hydro owned by the people … I’ve lost track. I seem to remember talk of privatizing it but don’t know what became of that idea.
    I know about 150 years ago the Canadian government came into effect when someone “declared it to be so” … I read that in one of many textbooks I’ve read in my life and remember thinking… how arrogant to think they can just declare it to be true and to heck with everyone else.

  40. Hi Dave, this was brought up again and it is good to see the number of comments and ideas it has inspired. I would like to see the paper that the UVIC team put together, unfortunately I don’t have 55 dollars to spend ona copy. Looking at the outline though I don’t see any indication that conservation was considered in the study. Do you know for example if Hydros Conservation Potential Reviews were considered? The most recent one was buried by Hydro almost as soon as it was published.

    The Wilderness Committee was involved with this version otherwise we wouldn’t have access to it.


  41. Anne says:

    We have a new 24 panel solar installation on our house in the Comox Valley. It was completed in September so we haven’t enjoyed the sunniest generating days of the year yet. We are pleased with the generation in spite of the low height of the sun in winter and the interference of the neighbours’ trees. The location is not ideal but still worthwhile. The net metering helps to ameliorate the sting of our changing to all electric ( heat pump, electric car) . We are trying to lighten our footprint, not to make money.

  42. BC Hydro is an inherent contradiction: a Crown corporation tasked with serving the public welfare while using a for-profit business model.

    Fundamentally, it is NOT in the best interests of BC Hydro to encourage conservation, any more than a gas company is going to encourage people not to drive.

    Aside from theories (that may have some substance) about BC Hydro being deliberately spiked so as to be easily slaughtered at a later date so as to free up the water in the reservoir of the still nascent site C dam project for export southwards as per the NAWAPA plan ( qv Wendy Holm), there is the little matter of BC Hydro’s sibling.
    From the BC Hydro Branding Guidelines, published in 2015:

    “For 25 years, Power Smart was run as a conservation program. It encouraged British Columbians to save power and money by reducing their power consumption. During that time, there was a concerted effort to give the Power Smart program its own identity and tone so that it could remain as friendly and approachable as possible— and it was very successful. But there was one crucial problem: BC Hydro didn’t get the credit it deserved for all the positive virtues and results of Power Smart. In short, it created two brands under BC Hydro—and more than a few challenges

    .” In 2015, we decided there should only be one brand, BC Hydro.There were two key points to this decision. One, keep the incredibly successful brand tone of Power Smart, and two, expand the meaning of Power Smart beyond conservation. Now, at BC Hydro, any good thought, decision or action is power smart.

    “To reinforce this new purpose for BC Hydro, “power smart” has also become the tagline for the entire company. For employees, it reminds them how to work. And for customers, it serves as a promise of good service, inviting everyone to be power smart too.”

    Let’s look at the highlights:

    “. . . Power Smart WAS run as a conservation program.”

    ” BC Hydro didn’t get the credit it deserved. . “.

    ” . . . keep the incredibly successful brand tone of Power Smart . . .”

    ” Now . . . any good thought, decision or action is power smart… become the tagline for the entire company”


    Let’s look at that as if it were a movie.

    A Stephen King movie.

    Older sibling becomes jealous of younger sibling who gets all of the attention when they go out and always has visitors coming by because they are so full of life and hope,

    Older sibling almost murders younger sibling, but realizes that the younger one is the more popular of the two of them and they have gotten used to the attention.

    So, instead of outright murdering their sibling and hiding the body, they smother them with a pillow and then LOBOTOMIZE them instead, and then figure out a way to use their unfortunate relative like a ventriloquist’s dummy so that people will still come by and visit.

    No one clues into the fact that the once loquacious and hopeful talking vegetable doesn’t say anything of substance anymore, but just mouths “feel good” sayings that the not overly colloquial or idealistic older sibling thinks SOUND like something a benevolent person would say.

    And everyone paid higher hydro bills.

    THE END.

    That sounds melodramatic, but the fact remains THAT is the story.

    BC Hydro as it exists is naturally cognitively dissonant, you cannot operate an institution that should be working on reducing impacts of power generation and reducing bills by helping people be more efficient with their power use, and have it following a for-profit model.

    The fact that it operated for years on a for-profit while going into debt in order to pay dividends to the BC Liberal government so that they could present a nice and balanced annual budget each year should be an indication that there is something already profoundly wrong with the set up.

    Add to that the little point that the Clean Energy Act of 2010 basically mandated that the ever increasingly pricey Site C dam was the only real option for BC Hydro to upscale it’s basic generation capacity FOUR YEARS before the decision to build the dam was made, against the overall findings of it’s own Joint Review Panel, and the picture gets even more disturbing.

    This is all under the government of the premier who somehow or another evaded most of the dirt from the BC Rail Sale scandal, and whose whereabouts on the day that the Clean Energy Act received Royal Assent and went into effect are themselves very interesting (even while by their nature are NOT actually indicative of anything, nor any of the figures who were also present and whose connection to the Site C dam would be purely coincidental. Of course).

    Still, it seems like maybe there is some room to take a REALLY close look at whether BC Hydro should continue to exist, continue to exist in it’s current form, or a new Crown entity tasked with being of service first and foremost should be created.

    Possibly Power Smart could come back from the dead.

    And along the way, the Clean Energy Act needs to be re-examined to make certain that as written it’s aim is actually what it purports to be.

    This should happen sooner than later, because the increasingly expensive SIte C dam, with it’s repeated geotechnical issues, dubious legality, poorly considered impact studies (the mathematics used for the “20% impact limit” in it’s environmental assessment do not give confidence in one’s hydro bills), and a host of other points, is still progressing.

    And while there is no “point of no return” for the project if one understands the sunk cost fallacy and how it pertains to money already spent on a bad venture, the damage being done cannot always be repaired, for the Peace RIver Valley every day is a point of no return.

    Any one of the points that have barely been touched on in this single comment should warrant a full investigation, full audits, third party reviews of everything BC Hydro has done and the surrounding contexts over the last two decades.

    Preferably performed yesterday.

  43. Newt French says:

    I have already registered for the group this morning. decided to have solar panels installed on my roof and have a estimate for the work already under way. Called hydro two days a go and inquired about the incentives . What I ended up experiencing in that phone call was horrific and scary with regards to the net metering program etc. hydro was quite abrupt and evasive with me and sort of edgy and I was finally to get the rep to answer questions like. So I am being penalized for over using my Kilowatt usage by being charged at the step two level which was 60% higher./ she would not say penalized or anything like it. I rephrased the question as so…if I exceed the step one limit…the consequence for that seeing that the term Rate is an equation , not a thing ….like a step…I gave the example is miles per hour …and in this case the consequence for me is 60% for going above the limit so the cost per Kilowatt is the equation.so I am being penalized. angrily ..she blurted” yes” and quickly terminated the call. I did find out that they would get all MY Kilowatts and leverage them from my bill…in other words … slowly give them back possibly in my lifetime as I am 64. Presently. I will probably never be able to win back the initial 25 K outlay with no incentives from the governments to go green

  44. thomas craig says:

    thomas craig I made the mistake of putting up a solr system for my farm its worked great till now realy dissapointed

  45. Walter Chledowski says:

    There are three problems with solar and wind power generation that no one has even looked at or discussed . 1) Both solar and wind power generation can not be solely depended on without a backup grid power ( not reliable) because there is no sun at night and very lower power out put on cloudy days and no power output if the solar panels are covered with snow ! Wind turbines require a minimum of 10 Km/hr of wind in order to start to produce any electricity and turbines have to be turned off if the wind is 60 Km/hr or above, so not to destroy the turbine !! So this means that there are peaks and valleys in the power production cycle !! 2) If more people buy electric vehicles , the power grid , power lines, will be over loaded and rotating power outages will happen as it has happened in several states during high power consumption like last summer . So producing more power will not help get this power to the consumer . 3) Most house panels , and even electrical panels in many businesses, are full of breakers with no extra spaces for additional breakers , which are required to connect the solar or wind generating systems. A huge amount of money will be required to upgrade electrical services to these buildings !! All this work will have to be done by qualified electricians and inspected by the Inspection Authority.

  46. James Tang says:

    How they get around? How about all employees are mandated to work remotely for part of the week every week? You think getting around as much as we do is fundamental. That alone tells me this environmental movement is half baked. I’m all for a green future. But not from people who rehash what sounds good when there are obvious omissions in the logic.

    And don’t even throw around “peer reviewed” as a form of validation. You clearly identified the corruption in corporations. There’s also documented corruption in the “peer reviewed” process. Imagine you are the peer reviewer and you come across a paper that invalidates your life’s work, your rreputation and your authority in the field. Your natural reaction and bias is to think this paper is nonsense. And no wonder. The peer review process has been flawed as far back as the days of Albert Einstein. A better approach may be to let all scientific papers into the public and let thousands of peers to review instead of only a select few gatekeepers who have clear conflicts of interests.

Leave a Reply

Send this to a friend