When trying to understand the strange and unhealthy direction our Province is heading, does this help?
First, Peter Ladner in Business In Vancouver, who commits the phrase “political corruption” to electronic form:

I have previously written about the baffling decisions to build the Site C dam and a 10-lane Massey tunnel replacement bridge. Site C, built with an exemption from scrutiny by the BC Utilities Commission, will lose money for 70 years, according to BC Hydro’s latest statements. It has wiped out the domestic B.C. clean energy industry, the biggest business opportunity of our time, while the government hugs the ghost of its failed LNG fossil-fuel dreams. The $3.5 billion Massey project is crashing ahead with scant consideration of the myriad other ways cross-Fraser River mobility could be improved for that price.

Why is our government so keen to see projects like these go ahead?

As we all do, they’re listening to their funders. IntegrityBC reports that almost 75% of Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure contracts went to 52 companies that have collectively donated $1.2 million to the BC Liberal Party since 2005.

Then, Douglas Todd in Postmedia’s Vancouver Sun, who focuses on offshore money in BC politics, alongside local corporate money.  He contrasts Australia’s current furor with BC’s seeming indifference:

Australia’s politicians are, in effect, finally facing censure for acting just like another outlier, the B.C. Liberal Party, which has also taken in millions of dollars from companies based in Europe, the U.S. and Asia. . .
. . .  Despite international pro-democracy agencies warning against foreign political donations, the B.C. Liberals brazenly go their own way in Canada and rake in large donations from scores of companies rooted in China, Malaysia, the U.S., Dubai, Poland and Indonesia.

Comments

  1. Is BC Clean Energy Industry code for the Independent Power Producers who benefitted so nicely at the public expense during Gordon Campbell’s reign of error?

    1. Yes, the “BC Clean Energy Industry” is exactly that: code for independent power producers. This is the same industry that has made substantial cash donations to the BC Liberal party over the last decade, and have forced BC Hydro to buy power at above-market rates. The same industry that has destroyed previously pristine watersheds with small run-of-river hydro projects (rather than harness the potential of existing reservoirs on already dammed rivers, as Site C will do). The same industry that provides infirm and intermittent sources of power, such as wind and solar, that can only supplant the flexible and reliable baseload provided by large hydroelectric generators.
      It’s odd to accuse the BC Liberals of corruption and favouritism towards their donors, and then in the same article lament the failing of the so-called BC Clean Energy Industry. Who would profit from this industry? Not ratepayers, but independent power producers who are also BC Liberal party donors.

  2. Is Elon Musk building dams.
    Canadians: hewers of wood; builders of dams. What will it take to get beyond this antedeluvian beaver mentality.
    What if the Ministry of Transportation was called the Office of Rational Movement. If all the money spent on enabling commuters and moving stuff around was rationally distributed – a stay in place dividend – people wouldn’t have to work so much. Wouldn’t need a bigger tunnel; bigger bridges; fast ferries.

  3. R. Buckminster Fuller wrote many years ago about building a global energy grid for Spaceship Earth – the Sun is always shining somewhere. I don’t recall him ever considering building dams – a primitive, disruptive, anti-ecological approach.
    Dam building is big in China – that’s reason enough to object. These mega projects can be mega disasters.
    Remember the 98′ Ice Storm in Quebec – a catastrophe. This force majeure wouldn’t have had the same consequences without the industriousness of our charming French dam-building beavers.
    People died. Billions were lost – thanks to their reliance on hydro.
    Fuller was a pragmatist, a logician, and a dreamer. He was also credble enough to work with one of the greatest architects of our time: Sir Norman Foster.
    A global energy grid may be too hopeful; too far into a beaver-eyed future – they are myopic rodents after all. But, from our location on the planet, there should be an energy grid going down the coast to Central America. It’s simpler than pipelines.
    We are in the waning years of bully energy megaprojects, but change will not come from within. It will come thanks to geniuses like Elon Musk.

    1. You might have reasons for not liking dams, but the ones you quote aren’t good ones.
      The catastrophe from the Ice Storm was because long transmission lines were destroyed. What do you think is the future with renewal energy? Long transmission lines. You put the wind turbines and solar farms where the power is, which is not where people live. By the way, I hope you won’t be protesting all the new transmission lines we’ll need as wind and solar gets built out in the next 20-40 years.
      The large Chinese dams are as much about flood control as electricity. Millions of people have died over the years due to flooding, should the Chinese government just let that continue?
      And finally, where do you think the power to recharge all those Musk-mobiles is going to come from? You’d prefer it to be coal-fired power plants?
      Everything we do on this planet has consequences. If we followed the logic being presented here, there would be no Vancouver, we’d have no electricity (for sure the demand wasn’t there when the first two big dams were built on the Peace River), you wouldn’t have any technology to type your missives on.

      1. The beauty of solar panels is that they can be as close as your roof and reduce demand for more new transmission lines. Wind farms can also be located much closer to population centres than our hydro-electric dams.
        I’m doubtful a global grid is practical because of large losses over distance. But a highly resilient, decentralized, renewable grid along with existing hydro to balance fluctuations along with demand pricing and massive improvements in efficiency are all doable today. We just need to stop aiming for bigger and more wasteful as the default position that so many crave.

        1. Decentralized solar panels good too but they are intermittent. Wind mills near population centers are ugly ugly ugly, i.e. an optical pollution and destroy property values due to ugliness and noise. Solar on roofs is fine, but insufficient to charge 100 e-cars like Tesla’s in a highrise plus 300 condos, especially when the sun doesn’t shine like at night or on cloudy days. We need both large systems that are on ALL THE TIME and decentral ones.
          What is cleaner than a hydro dam that is on all the time ?

        2. What is cleaner? The ones we already have.
          We don’t need another large dam – the ones we have can meet load when the sun isn’t shining and wind not blowing and they can refill when they are.
          I like the look of windmills scattered on small footprints across farms. Newer models make way less noise.

  4. Following up on what bar foo said above, if, as seems to be accepted, we’re moving away from fossil fuels to electricity as a preferred energy delivery system, it’s important to understand that none of this is magic.
    Electricity has to be generated somehow, which is why electric cars often wind up just moving the pollutants from the tailpipe to a big generating station somewhere else.
    At the end of the day any electrical generating technology has environmental and social impacts.
    You can compare wind, or solar, or coal, or hydro, but nothing is free.
    Europe has demonstrated that large scale solar and wind can work, but my guess is that when all factors are considered, we’ll wind up thinking that hydro generation is the best choice for long term, large capacity generation in BC.
    Which is not to say that Site C is necessarily a good idea, or that any new hydro installation isn’t horridly disruptive to some ecosystem or population.
    It’s fashionable to knock hydro these days, but honestly those giant hydro developments pretty much built this province by delivering clean, reliable, cheap electricity.
    It’s foolish to turn our noses up at hydro just because it’s “old fashioned.”

      1. Hardly. It is nearly GHG free only after it is built but it will take a long time to “pay off” the emissions that went into building it.
        There’s no doubt that existing dams work well in conjunction with wind and solar but we could meet all growth in demand with the latter. There’s no need for Site C to destroy yet another ecosystem.

        1. Yes we need to export electricity to AB for their oil extraction (instead of them burning gas to extract oilsands) or in lieu of AB’s coal using power plants, for all the new e-cars in MetroVan, for all the LNG plants and for future inhabitants of BC numbering 10,000,000 in 2100 !
          Plus we ought to build large infrastructure in remote places rather than close to MetroVan, say windmills on North Shore mountains.
          Humans need energy. If you oppose even super-clean emission free hydro then you are basically a socialist that wishes a low living standard ie poverty for all. Not what most BCers want, only a tiny minority !

        2. I don’t oppose super-clean emission free hydro. I oppose building a new dam we don’t need. We don’t need it to extract bitumen. We don’t need it for LNG. We don’t need clean energy to extract and ship dirty energy. What’s the point in that?
          Cool cloudy, economically powerful, Germany produces about half their electricity with solar. We could too.

        3. Germany’s electricity rates are quintuple to septuple of BC’s 6 cents / kwh, gasoline is twice as much, GST&PST combined is 20% and income taxes are higher than here plus CPP, EI and elder care surcharges! A model NOT to follow. Tiny homes. Socialism at its finest just like Nordic countries. But hey, our sunny ways PM loves it too so we are heading that way, especially if BC elects NDP in May 2017.
          Hence they have created the term “Energy Poverty” http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/high-costs-and-errors-of-german-transition-to-renewable-energy-a-920288.html
          And is now pulling the plug on subsidies too: http://phys.org/news/2013-07-germany-solar-subsidies.html

        4. Gee, you’d think Germans are poor with all those taxes and energy costs. How come they’re not Mr. half-the-equation Beyer?

        5. Many Germans are poor, poorer on average than wealthy Canadians where 70%+ own their homes. Canada has far higher average household wealth. Germany benefits from a weak Euro. If they had kept their DM (Deutsch Mark) they’d had far higher 10%+ unemployment ! http://www.oecdbetterlifeindex.org/topics/income/
          But I do understand some folks prefer bigger governments, higher taxes and more overall poverty. NDP voters and NDP politicians usually. And many blue / left leaning Liberals.
          The EU / German model of free education to age 27, then leisurely work for 30 years to late 50’s with 6-8 weeks of annual vacations and then 40 years of state pensions is crumbling and unsustainable. Hence their just now starting debate about immigration as their birthrate is so low that the country without immigration would shrink from 80M to 50M in the next 30 years or so. That is why their 2,5 and now 10 year bonds are all negative to stimulate growth. A crumbling house of cards not to be emulated. CPP for example in Canada has now almost 300B in real assets (real estate, stocks, pipelines, roads, harbors, ..) vs Germany’s CPP equivalent has 0. Not a great model to emulate.

        6. There is no poverty in Germany like the poverty we have here.
          “Many Germans are poor, poorer on average than wealthy Canadians…” is a not so cleverly crafted sentence to both deceive and tell the truth at the same time.
          We’ll see how well they’ll do compared to our clutching at fossil fuels until the whole industry is bankrupt.

        7. I’ll also add that Canada is riding a low currency.
          And home ownership is a cultural thing (frontier mentality) not necessarily a measure of wealth. Investment in a home has also become a big problem here as we’ve seen, whereas they just invest in other things.
          Germans are also known as one of the most productive workforces in the world so it’s pretty awesome that they achieve that in such a leisurely way.

        8. @RV: fair enough. I am well hedged.
          German wealth, like Canada’s is rooted in resources, namely metal and coal. Their sword, knife, lock, steel and engine technology goes back hundreds of years. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economic_history_of_Germany and also here http://www.make-it-in-germany.com/en/for-qualified-professionals/working/industry-profiles/steel-and-metal-industry If e-cars take off (a big if btw) you will need far less of their sophisticated motors. Another industry in decline you could argue, i.e. coupled to oil too. But that s a few decades out due to battery technology limitation i.e. ramge and charge constraints.
          The German equivalent to a Tesla is nowhere to be found .. yet ..
          But yes, they will do well, as will Canada. I think Canada will do better as it has
          a) more land
          b) more water
          c) more oil
          d) more gas
          e) more resources such as uranium, potash or diamonds
          f) eventually more people (100M+ in 2100)
          g) closer access to US
          h) more diverse immigration
          i) far lower energy costs
          j) lower taxes – i.e. far more room to create more taxation room. Germans are totally maxed out here with 60%+ taxed off wages, 20% GST and extremely high energy prices. Thus, the state is far too big and that always hinders economic growth.
          Canada has found a proper balance between Europe’s failed socialists states and the extreme US capitalist positions but is steering too far to the “big state is better socialist everyone will get poorer position” (but then, Hillary C and Bernie S and Elizabeth W will change all that tomorrow most likely and become more Canadian)

  5. And maybe this thread is an example of one aspect of our problem. A post about government corruption on turns into a technocratic discussion of Technology A vs. Technology B. The critique above is not about the end result, it is about the process that forces these discussions to happen after-the-fact on urbanist blogs, and not in the institutions that were meant to be determining the course of our province’s future – the Legislature, the BCUC, the research institutions.
    This is why John Horgan describes the current BC Liberal governance model as “decision-based evidence making”.

    1. The issue is that BC has a culture of nay-sayers that oppose almost ANY major project, even the greenest hydro dam.
      Governments get elected to act, not to debate things endlessly. We elect them to make decisions AND THEN ACT. Likely almost 50% won’t like it anyway. Doing nothing is better ? Forcing poverty onto citizens by not investing in projects that last 200+ years is better ?
      Any issue has pro’s and con’s and depending on your values there is no right or wrong. There is no black or white. Just shades of grey.

      1. The BCUC determined the dam is not necessary. But Christy wanted it so Christy gets it. Great act. Great governance.

    2. Well we can always look to Kathleen Wynne and the ON Liberals to show how to foist ruinously expensive electricity rates on the populace if it makes you feel better.

  6. It is important to discuss appropriate technology and when somehing better comes along – it should be used.
    Developing countries were fortunate to leapfrog wire cables, for example, when satellite transmission became viable.
    Shipping was destined to come to a standstill until someone figured out to use containers.
    Sometimes it’s good to build on existing technology; to not reinvent the wheel. Sometimes invention is key.
    I like genius Elon Musk’s dismissal of those who opposed Tesla taking over SolarCity: “silly buggers”, he said.
    Dams have their uses, but they have huge downsides – enough to go to war over. Battles in the Middle East are not just about land, but access to water that has been appropriated upstream. There is a battle for water in California, and it’s getting worse than when “Chinatown” screened in 1974.
    To compare technologies:
    Wind power is horrible. It’s expensive to install and maintain. It’s noisy. The stroboscopic effect of the blades is migraine-insanity inducing. It is the dystopian evolution of the windmill.
    There is hydro – the evolution of the beaver mindset – except for the Bay of Fundy. No need for beavers there; what with the highest tides in the world. Why hasn’t it been done? Cost.
    There is geothermal. Much good can be said of this system, though it’s too expensive for individual applications.
    There is solar. Worshipped for an eternity, it is ready for prime time. Its Achilles heel was cost of panels and storage of energy.
    The cost of panels keeps dropping; and the size of Elon Musk’s battery factory is as astounding as his plans for Mars.
    It would be worthwhile to ask Elon Musk’s opinion on what approach BC should take. I think he is magnanimous and altruistic enough to give us good advice – not just another jackass billionaire. Wouldn’t hurt to ask.

    1. Sure many options exist.
      Solar panels OK BUT storage costs HUGE. BC not as sunny as AB even or AZ, CA or HI !
      Glad to have the political will to push this through. Many naysayers would have stopped it. it was envisioned in the 1980’s I believe. 30 years in the making. Give me a break. No wonder China is eating our lunch economically !

      1. Solar panels are better than OK. Thousands of homes in (southern) BC rely on them just fine, even in winter.
        Maybe you can’t run an electric clothes dryer, but an average small home can do just fine with solar for electricity.
        The more general point being that while it isn’t yet possible to change over an entire generation grid to solar, it IS possible to add solar capacity, including storage, to thousands or tens of thousands of individual homes.
        That would make a significant dent in the demand for large scale generated power, and possible eliminate the need to build more expensive generating capacity.
        Sadly there is no political will to do this, likely because solar equipment producers aren’t throwing bucketloads of money at the Liberals.
        This is not about what’s technically or financially possible, it’s about greed and political opportunism.

        1. We priced it, recently. We’d have to live here another 40-50 years to have it make sense financially. It’s a gamble too as far as leaking and maintenance.
          There have already been some serious leaking issues of one of largest installations at the Olympic Village.
          First Solar got a billion in subsidies from Washington. This week:
          “Though First Solar Inc. (NASDAQ: FSLR) has been a leader among U.S. solar outfits, solar has fallen very much out of favor, and the fate of post-2016 subsidies remains up in the air. Shares got demolished on Thursday after the company reported its third-quarter results. The company actually had a strong quarter on the bottom line, with $1.22 in EPS, versus the consensus estimate of $0.74. However, revenues failed to live up to expectations, coming in at $688 million instead of the $988 million forecast.
          Over the past week shares dropped about 20% to close out the week at $32.48, with a consensus price target of $47.91 and a 52-week trading range of $32.41 to $74.29.”
          Maybe it’s a buy, now it’s going down.

    2. Wind power is horrible, says the man who makes no reference to the fact that solar doesn’t line up with demand in BC or that winter is the windiest period. We need more power in winter, keep that in mind.
      When you add in storage, solar in BC is at least double the cost of the highest Site C power cost estimates. Day to day storage is about $0.10 to $0.15 per kWh currently. If you wanted to live off grid in BC, you’d probably be paying many times that though, since you’d need to store huge volumes of power into the winter when there is no way a solar system will produce significant volumes of power.
      The panels aren’t even the main cost in many situations. The mounts and supporting electrical infrastructure hasn’t gotten significantly cheaper since rooftop solar became a thing.

  7. Is it better to subsidize war for oil – or solar panels.
    There’s a Bloomberg piece on Elon Musk vs Warren Buffet on the installation of solar roofs in Nevada. People invested with Elon, buying outright, or leasing – seeing that the ROI would be within ten years – virtually free after that.
    That stepped on Greedy Buffet’s toes. He owned the electric utility. He pulled the rug.
    Elon Musk does what’s right. Buffet does what’s profitable.

    1. Buffet also makes a lot of money shipping coal. No US port will let the crap to be shipped through their ports so he ships it via Port Metro Vancouver. And we welcome him with open arms and supply him with a taxpayer paid bridge so that he can ship his coal from Surrey Docks. Let the planet burn.

  8. It would be good to clear up some misconceptions:
    Wind is much cheaper than solar today, and accounts for the majority of non-hydro renewables being built at present, and the majority of non-hydro installed capacity.
    Household solar is not sufficient to be “off-grid”. Certainly, the combination of solar and battery storage can significantly reduce your demand for grid electricity, but you still need all the infrastructure that exists today.
    Wind overwhelmingly does not blow where people live, requiring significant transmission capacity. And not only that, but renewables in general require significant transmission connections because you need many, widely distributed, sources to account for the fluctuations.
    If we’re going to reduce fossil fuel use, that means more electricity for cars, trucks, trains, heating etc. Hydro has a big part to play in that whether you like it or not. You have to wonder where we’d be if our forefathers had the same attitude to building infrastructure as some have today…

    1. Indeed, one solution does not fit all, and as such the ENERGY MIX – both local and from afar – both renewable and non-renewable – is crucial.
      Keep in mind Site C was also designed for LNG, and now may be used to feed electricity into Alberta, to reduce CO2 emissions from oilsands extraction and by shutting off coal plants.

  9. Bar foo has some excellent points. I would add that “base load” power (i.e. stable power on demand) is theoretically possible with a regulator to balance incoming intermittent with steady flows in a hydro station in real time. In effect, wind, tidal solar and geothermal would be instantly supplemental to our existing hydro.
    Because the wind is always blowing somewhere, a large enough transmission system should be able to capture it and send it downstream from a number of locations. Undersea transmission cables are out of sight.
    High voltage DC lines minimize resistance losses to about 3% per 1,000 km. In effect, a trans-Canadian smart grid using HVDC transmission can balance demand with supply on a national level with only a ~10% loss. It’s possible that clean power from BC can be sent to Ontario and Quebec in time for their peak morning demand at our lowest night time rates. The flows can reverse so eastern provinces are shipping affordable non-peak power west during the western peak periods. This means that all provinces and territories can save hundreds of billions on new generating capacity if they coordinate their demand peaks with cheaper non-peak rates while taking advantage of the differences in the time zones.
    There is one overriding issue that seems to get overlooked in these discussions: the laws of physics. With an overall energy demand turbocharged by cheap fossil fuels, which are now on an undulating plateau of unstable prices as expensive sources seep into the mix, and considering the oncoming impact of international carbon pricing, it is likely that the overall energy used by society will decrease, perhaps by a third. That means the perpetuation of freeway-served subdivisions filled with McManions, and car dependency at current rates cannot continue forever.
    Cities have to become far more efficient than they are today, and all of us will have to take a hit on things we take for granted, like cheap flights, full lots and multiple car ownership. But if you live in an efficiently insulated house in a comfortable walkable community and local farms are growing more food for the region, who cares?

  10. The Site C dam was projected to cost $8,355,000,000.00.
    It’s over budget.
    How can one talk about pennies/kWh in the face of a number like that? Is the construction cost included, or is it externalized? This is not even taking into account messing with Mother Nature.
    Were there alternatives discussed, or was it just a green light for the techno-beavers? Clearly, France’s nuclear solution was not on the table. Wind power – even Greedy Buffet won’t get behind it without subsidies.
    The first R is Reduce. What if this taxpayer money was used instead to build to a Leeds/Passive House standard – in retrofits and new-builds.
    What if local geothermal was built instead – installing the piping under parks, for proximal distribution.
    What if the money was spent instead on electrically-activated exterior insulated shutters. I’d want those: to retain energy; for blessed darkness; soundproofing (an urban luxury); and security.
    The techno-beaver mindset is to get the nine billion $ plus and build a dam. What other approaches, if any, were seriously considered?
    When billions is up for grabs, there will be misinformation – pr flacks posting.

  11. Note that former premier Harcourt is saying we should walk away from this boondoggle dam – that it’s a financial and environmental disaster.
    We have foodbanks; child poverty; people digging in garbages for cans – and billions of dollars in the damn toilet – flushing good money after bad.

    1. A clean hydro dam in the middle of nowhere is an environmental disaster ?
      Electricity for 200+ years is financially unsound ?
      Replacing dirty coal (in AB or China or US) with LNG or electricity is an environmental disaster ?

      1. Former premier Harcourt is a hero to many for how he stepped up to the plate to help save the homes of the citizens of Strathcona. He saw what was right and helped stop the supercilious rulers of the day from bulldozing houses for a freeway. He had the courage to be a leader.
        He was not a wobbly-minded, tunnel-obsessed, poor-bashing, Trump wannabe. Don’t bother actually listening to what Harcourt said. It would interfere with your mindset.

      2. Hard to imagine what the world will be like 200 years from now, but it’s a safe bet that hydro-electric dams will be regarded as to be about as modern as we consider the waterwheel driven flour mill today. The likelihood of modern cultures in that time needing to transmit power across hundreds if not thousands of kilometres to reach populations is probably somewhere near zero. Localized power generation from technologies we can barely imagine today is far more likely. This project isn’t about power two centuries from now.

        1. Actually, hydro-electric power is just an advance of water-wheel driven mills and the like. Given that humans have been using the concept for more than 2000 years, I think it’s a safe bet that dams generating energy for humans to use will be around in 200 years.
          The modern hydro-turbine was developed in 1849. Hydro-electric systems were powering lights in the 1880s. There’s every reason to believe some advance on this technology will be around in 200 years still.
          And if we’re going to be using renewable energy, it’s almost certainly not going to be local, because you take it where you can get it at the most economical scale.
          It’s a bit of a pipe dream to think we won’t be transporting power hundreds if not thousands of kilometres from where we can produce it to where we want to use it in the future. That’s just the nature of the earth. Doesn’t mean you have to like Site C either.

        2. What is better and cleaner ? Solar panels on roofs and in windows exist TODAY. Why are they not used on a large scale ? Answer: due to cost and due to them being on only intermittently. Heat recovery systems in sewer pipes exist TODAY. Why are they not used on a large scale ? Answer: due to cost and because cheaper solutions exist.
          The left lunatics and eco-terrorists somehow think if we just oppose everything the world will be a better place. Will it ?
          What is cleaner than a hydro dam ?
          With more e-cars, e-trucks, e-bikes, geothermal pumps and 3x the population Lower Mainland needs quintuple the electric power eventually, even with LED lights and more energy efficient homes. 1000 windmills placed throughout lower mainland is better ? Electricity costs 10x the current costs would better by using inefficient expensive local generation why ?
          Energy mix matters, from multiple sources, both large and small, like transportation. To move around 10M humans we need everything from a small bike to a large train and buses, cars, trucks, minibuses in between ! It is never an either-or answer !
          I am glad someone actually has the guts to push a large project through – and a clean one to boot – and not give in to all the nay-sayers.

        3. The BCUC exists TODAY. Why isn’t it’s advice heeded TODAY. Renewable costs were falling YESTERDAY, TODAY and will continue TOMORROW. TOMORROW they may well be cheaper than Site C was YESTERDAY while it keeps getting more expensive TODAY and especially TOMORROW.
          Other renewables can be scaled to meet demand as required deferring costs. The full cost of Site C must be spent before it produces a single watt.
          Ignoring independent oversight makes Thomas glad.
          Flooding a valley that is the habitat of at-risk species is not clean.

      3. Keep on looking for tomorrow’s solutions in the rear view mirror, Thomas. I imagine WAC would have moved on instead of repeating the past. It’s called progress, but that word must make you shudder.

  12. Just to bring some more clarity here:
    1. Germany DOESNT get half it’s electricity from solar. It gets almost half from coal, actually; renewables account for 30% (wind 13%, solar 6%, hydro 3%, other 8%)
    2. German consumers pay around 35c/kWh for electricity. I’m a firm believer in stepped tariffs to encourage conservation (ie the way BCH charges now), but I suggest any government that tries 35c/kWh electricity in BC won’t stay in power long…
    3. The key to making renewables work is large, long transmission lines. That’s how Denmark can produce more wind power than it needs at times – it goes to Germany. Same for Spain with solar and wind. See Texas. See China.
    4. You might hate Site C (and I’m not necessarily arguing in favour here, just pointing out some hard truths), but opting for wind/solar/biomass (or heaven, forbid, LNG) over hydro does NOT mean there won’t be serious environmental issues to deal with.
    5. If you really want to reduce energy consumption, move away from Vancouver to a warm, temperate location and eschew modern technology.
    As a wise senior engineer told me when I was young, if you consume more energy than arrives from the sun on the space you’re standing in, it’s ultimately not sustainable…

    1. You’re right, I meant to say renewables, not just solar. My mistake. And I did say “about half” knowing that they were somewhat shy of half but growing since I last saw figures.
      On the other hand, if they can already produce 30% so can we. We’re almost three times the size with less than 6% the population so we should really be able to meet 100% of demand even with only non-hydro renewables (intermitanacy aside).
      That they also use coal does not change what we use as a baseline. We don’t get a pass just because of the fortune of our mountains. At least they are advancing the acceptance and technology of less environmentally damaging renewables and that is the only responsible thing to do. Do we have a choice just because it costs more?
      Give me your wallet or I’ll try to kill a few of your grandchildren. Your call.
      30% and more buys us a lot of growth and negates the need for Site C, for decade at least – if ever.
      Finally, should we aim for the requirements of the sustainable world of which the wise engineer spoke? Or should we just say f*** it, not my problem? If it takes 35c/kWh to get there then that’s what it has to be. Maybe there are other ways. But pretending that because it isn’t politically palatable it will just go away isn’t exactly a responsible attitude for grown ups.
      Are we able to invest in the future? Are we grown up?
      Too many people behaving like children. La-la-la la-la.

      1. 35 Euro cent per kwh = well over 40 cents in Canadian $s ie almost 7 times our current rate of 6 cents. Industrial consumers get subsidized in that they get a preferred bulk rate in Germany to stay competitive. The “Energiewende” is highly controversial.
        Why isn’t solar flying off the shelf here ? Why aren’t e-cars ? Why aren’t roof top mounted wind turbines ?
        Arguing for higher energy costs is the same as arguing for higher taxes. Some like it, most do not.
        The main reason BC has such a low carbonfoot print relative to other provinces is its 90%+ of power being hydro, like ON used to get too, and Quebec gets today, or France from nuclear.
        Energy prices matter.
        Only bike riding socialists in tiny condos, eco-terrorists, green socialists or wealthy billionaires prefer vastly high energy prices (such as 6-7 times today’s rates). The vast majority of normal people do not.

  13. “Thanks for mansplaining my own metaphor to me!!! (shakes head and walks away from Price Tags yet again).”
    Sorry Chris, your superior intellect and moral capabilities are beyond me. I figured I was contradicting what you said, but apparently I was mansplaining something, but I have no idea what. Never fear, I’ll stay well away from any of your comments in future.

    1. I’m making no claim to be smarter or more moral than anyone. You are free to make that interpretation of course. I chose the idea of a water driven mill on purpose. They are hard to find nowadays aren’t they? Despite being perfectly a serviceable means for grinding grain into flour and of course, a forebear of the modern hydro-electric dam, no one would consider a flour mill a modern idea. That’s the analogy, in service of my opinion that the mega-dam of today won’t be seen as a partic. modern way to generate power in a couple of hundred years.
      Many of our advances, both cultural and technical, are in service of disconnection and non-reliance on outside parties. In our silver jump-suited future, who will rely on power generated far away when it can be as close as a rooftop and not subject to lines going down and all the other things that can go wrong with the current hydro system?
      Now if you’ll excuse me I have to go plug in the moss and listen to the radio.
      http://inhabitat.com/moss-fm-worlds-first-plant-powered-radio-uses-biological-solar-panels/

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