Smaller clean-energy plants could save British Columbians a significant amount of money relative to the cost of the proposed Site C dam, an independent study says.
The study from London Economics International (LEI) finds the savings could come from “right-sizing and right-timing” of clean-energy projects. They would be spread over 70 years, the assumed “economic life” of the Site C dam and generating station on the Peace River in northeast BC.
The study was commissioned by Clean Energy BC (the association of BC’s independent power producers) and was released at the recent Clean Energy BC’s annual conference in Vancouver.
LEI acknowledges that Site C has a number of strengths but its report also shows how cost-effective clean energy is a legitimate alternative, and an option the provincial government should consider.
The study also found that, in addition to cost, clean energy has other advantages:
• Geographic dispersion around the province;
• Greater ability to adapt procurement to reflect evolving supply needs and technological diversity;
• More plentiful and meaningful opportunities for First Nations participation;
• Costs for various renewable technologies have been falling over the past several years.
LEI also says open tendering for BC’s future power needs would ensure the lowest possible cost and could transfer construction risk to the private sector. The LEI study said the costs of Site C may be underestimated, the power may be not be needed at this time and that an independent review of power needs and the Site C project would be beneficial.
“The study shows that clean energy in BC is a force to be reckoned with and recognized,” said Paul Kariya, executive director of Clean Energy BC.
He said Clean Energy BC wants to continue to work with the BC government and BC Hydro.
“We want to ensure that BC ratepayers fully understand the cost-effective alternatives and benefits to jobs and investment—especially to regional development—and that ratepayers receive value for money for any new power infrastructure.“British Columbia is at a pivotal time in the procurement of its energy needs and we need to ensure that the decisions we make are in the best interest of ratepayers, as well as, protecting the long-term financial viability of BC Hydro.”
There now are 86 clean-energy projects operating in BC and the industry directly employs 1,300 British Columbians. As well, another 21 clean-energy projects are under construction, representing a total capital expenditure value of $4.5 billion.