Media release - for immediate release
B.C. Citizens for Green Energy
August 29, 2011
Stay the course with energy
self-sufficiency policy: BCCGE
“The NDP government of the 1990s froze electricity rates
for political reasons and starved BC Hydro from the
financial resources needed to keep the province’s hydro
dams, distribution and transmission systems in top
working order.... We shouldn’t be repeating that mistake
now just to maintain artificially low electricity rates.”
— David Field, co-spokesperson, B.C. Citizens for Green Energy —
Vancouver, B.C. — B.C. Citizens for Green Energy (BCCGE) is calling on the provincial government to think carefully before abandoning the policy of electricity self-sufficiency enshrined in B.C.’s Clean Energy Act.
The call to proceed carefully comes in response to a recent review of BC Hydro’s proposed 32 percent rate increase application to the B.C. Utilities Commission and the province’s desire to see the proposed increase reduced.
The review report suggested that BC Hydro could keep rates low by putting off infrastructure renewal projects and importing cheap electricity from outside the province; even though much of that imported power would be coming from dirty coal-fired generating plants.
BCCGE co-spokesperson David Field says the provincial government should be very careful not to make the same mistake the NDP government of the 1990s made and fall into “the cheap electricity trap.”
“The NDP government of the 1990s froze electricity rates for political reasons and starved BC Hydro from the financial resources needed to keep the province’s hydro dams, distribution and transmission systems in top working order,” Field said. “We shouldn’t be repeating that mistake now just to maintain artificially low electricity rates because we’ll pay the price later.”
The review report lists more than $14 billion worth of BC Hydro infrastructure upgrade and renewal projects that have either already been completed, are currently in progress, or are under consideration, including the $7.9 billion Site C dam project.
These renewal projects, along with conservation efforts and acquiring renewably-sourced electricity from independent producers, are key to restoring B.C. to electricity self-sufficiency and allowing the province to regain status as a net electricity exporter.
As Field correctly points out, B.C. has historically been able to generate more electricity than was consumed which allowed B.C. to be a solid electricity exporting province.
But in the last couple of decades, he says, B.C. has become increasingly dependent on imported electricity due to the fact that our generating infrastructure has not kept pace with population growth.
“The last major dam built in B.C. was completed back in 1984,” Field said. “And most of the dams built in the 1960s and 1970s need serious renovations if we expect them to keep on serving our electricity needs.”
Worse yet, the electricity B.C. is importing is mostly coming from coal-fired and fossil fuel powered generators.
“We have to ask ourselves how long we can postpone investing in new sources of electricity and renewing our province’s valuable clean energy assets just to maintain artificially cheap electricity rates,” Field said. “It’s not fair to future generations for us let our energy generating infrastructure fall into disrepair.”
Field says the investments we make today in renewing BC Hydro’s infrastructure, along with the certainty of long term electricity supply contracts with independent green energy producers, will pay off in the long run for B.C.
“Not only will we be leaving a legacy of clean energy for future generations, it will be an affordable supply given the future cost of electricity,” Field said. “Let’s not fall into the cheap electricity trap and handicap BC Hydro.”
For more information about green energy in B.C. please visit the BCCGE website at www.greenenergybc.ca and join the green energy discussion on the BCCGE Livewire Blog.
For more information contact David Field
Co-spokesperson, B.C. Citizens for Green Energy
e-mail us at email@example.com
B.C. Citizens for Green Energy is an advocacy group representing a cross-section of British Columbians who encourage a legacy of clean, renewable electricity for future generations.