LETTER: Wind power, not Site C the way to go

Dear Editor:

People are concerned about climate change but prevention is slow because environmentalists don’t campaign hard enough to achieve global carbon pricing.

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British Columbia has done its part. We have a simple, effective carbon tax and a Clean Energy Act that forces us to have enough electricity generating capacity to be self-sufficient.

The intent is to export clean power during off-peak hours. Due to competition from coal-fired plants it has not yet happened.

Still, we need Site C for the far future. Since, in the U.S., new wind power electricity is cheaper than hydroelectricity, we should check if their prices apply here before flooding such an important valley.

BC Hydro is forced to buy all the renewable energy that independent power producers deliver. Since at times the surplus power can’t be exported, hydro turbines are forced to work less, driving up their cost per kilowatt hour.

At times the reservoirs flow over, which means power is wasted. As a result, the IPP power, bought at 8.5-10 c/kWh, actually costs 11-13 c/kWh. The problem can be solved by forcing Alberta to use less fossil fuel for oil extraction, which would make our oil export pipelines more acceptable.

Since wind and hydro work well together we could increase our wind power to 20 per cent and supply Alberta with a steady stream of 45 per cent of our clean power at a decent price.

Carbon tax is not a tax grab but a tax shift. Years ago environmentalists could have demanded a global carbon tax, closing many coal-fired power plants. At the B.C. rate, the price of thermal coal would have risen by 70 per cent. Due to inflation, new facilities are costly.

In the U.S. the cheapest replacement cost in cents per kWh is natural gas (6.7), wind (8.7) and hydro (9.0).

From articles cross-referenced on my blog neilwilhees it can be calculated that in B.C. wind power costs 6.5-9.8 c/kWh subject to increases in material costs due to our low dollar. Site C power costs are 8.5-8.8 of which 2.6 cents will be paid by the existing facilities.

Hydro may be a bit cheaper but wind power will cause fewer protests and creates more jobs.

Neil Heesterman
North Vancouver

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