New energy source needed to meet demand
The centerpiece of BC Hydro planning for many years has been energy conservation.
It’s a very sensible objective considering the high cost of building new power plants. Just take a look at the estimated $7.9 billion capital cost to build the Site C Dam. Obviously, if massive capital expenditures can be avoided by reducing energy use it serves to keep electricity costs down for BC Hydro’s customers.
However, energy conservation has its limits, otherwise Site C would not be on the table. Eventually it becomes necessary to build new power plants as the population and overall energy use increase.
BC Hydro has, of course, wisely taken steps to meet a portion of BC’s energy needs from private sector energy suppliers, and typically at a cost that is less than what BC Hydro could have achieved itself by building and maintaining its own power plants.
And by acquiring energy from private sector suppliers, BC Hydro assumes none of the risk involved in building new power plants. The risk remains with the suppliers, which frees BC Hydro to pick and choose from among the most reliable suppliers and acquire electricity at the best rate.
So although I am all for energy conservation, I also believe that we need to acquire new energy supplies to meet growing energy needs. If the private sector can supply some of the new energy we need cost-effectively, and assume the financial risks, then I am all for that, too. All that should really matter is whether the best value is being achieved by BC Hydro for its customers.
Michael McBratney, Pitt Meadows