Billions of dollars have been invested and thousands of jobs in BC have been created through the development, construction and operations of Clean Energy Projects(CEP). These projects include small hydro, storage hydro, thermal, wind, energy recovery generation, municipal solid waste and solar.
Clean or renewable energy has been increasing in its importance throughout the world as many countries have set 100% renewables as their goal. The Paris talks on climate change focused on renewable energy as an important way to slow down climate change worldwide.
Clean Energy BC just released a report entitled “BC Clean Energy Projects: Investment, Job Creation and Community Contributions.” This report lets you know how significant the clean energy industry is in BC. Clean Energy BC producers produce 14% of the power in BC.
Existing projects have invested $6 billion dollars in projects that are in operation and an additional $2.6 billion investment is being put towards projects that are currently in development. A whopping $8.2 billion dollars! This is more than 1½ times more than the total projected capital investment in BC port and harbour facilities ($1.5 billion) and more than double the projected capacity investment in BC mining projects ($1 billion). Its significance speaks for itself.
Direct employment for those projects that are in operation include 642 jobs for preplanning and planning, 15,970 in construction, 641 in operations. For those projects in development, direct employment in pre-planning and planning are at 219 jobs, 4543 in Construction and 1656 in Operations. Not only do clean energy projects create these jobs but they also use professional services of engineering firms, consulting firms, biologists and lawyers. They use construction companies and all their equipment, electrical services, transportation and of course use of accommodations and restaurants and use other suppliers. Developing and operating clean energy projects bring many financial benefits to the various regions of BC.
Clean Energy projects are within all the regions of BC from Vancouver Island, to the mainland and southwest, northern and interior. If you for example want to know how many projects are in your area, you can go to that part of the report and look at the map and it shows you where and what kind of projects are there. In the interior for examples there are 20 projects operating with another 8 projects in development. There are three projects that include benefits for First Nations. One is Kwoiek Creek that is owned 50% by the Kanaka Bar Band. Another 5 First Nation communities get revenue sharing from the provinces Clean Energy Fund from this project. The local government gets more than $700,000 in tax revenues from this project.
So what’s so great about the clean energy industry besides having a major role in reversing climate change? The cost of renewable energy is decreasing. Today, wind energy cost 61% less than it did in 2009 and utility-scale solar PV costs are down 82%. The costs will continue to go down making renewable energy even less costly. The wind, sun, heat from the earth as yet don’t have a cost to use them.
Countries around the world like the United States, China and Japan are investing in clean energy and working towards 100% renewable. There is a different mindset as countries phase out coal fired generation and fossil fuels. This is a must for a planet.
While many countries pursue renewable energy, BC has stymied the clean energy industry by choosing Site C over independent power producers. They knew the substantial capital investment private investors bring to the province and that they take on the risk of projects. They knew that First Nations embraced this industry and have planned many projects based on the province promises under the New Relationship, the Clean Energy Act and the BC First Nations Clean Energy Business Fund. They knew that that if they choose IPP’s, they would only do calls for power as needed and it would be in different regions of the province so it would bring benefits to all areas of the province. They also knew they would continue to face opposition to the inundation of precious burial sites, cultural sites, agricultural lands, and many other important values that will be covered by the Peace River.
When you read the report produced by Clean Energy BC you wonder how the BC Government could slow this industry down to a crawl-the only opportunity is 45 MW per year. When Site C comes on line, there will be too much power and BC Hydro will be in mega debt-debt the taxpayer will be paying for. The BC Government always says they can produce power cheaper than Independent power producers. Producers and BC will never agree on this but if the government put out a call,they would see the kind of prices they could buy power for.
The NDP say they want to have power only produced by the Crown-not sure why they think a monopoly on power production is acceptable in this day and age. Also to have BC Hydro who has not handled the electricity production well to continue to be the only power producer in BC. BC Hydro is not capable of producing small power projects all over the province and judging by their record in dealing with First Nations in treaty 8 and Site C, they may not be successful in smaller projects and obtaining First Nations consent on projects. BC Hydro does not have the mandate from the BC government to partner with First Nations and would not be able to provide equity or revenue sharing with them unless this policy changes.
Once you read this report you will wonder why the BC Government has not provided more opportunities to the Clean Energy sector. You will see more companies leave the province that do not find opportunity. CANWEA left the province as there is little opportunity, BC is not the land of opportunity for clean energy. Technological advances will not happen here with so little opportunity. Of course, maybe Site C will be struck down in the courts, or the demand for power in BC will increase dramatically, or Justin Trudeau will call for a review of Site C based on a New Environmental Assessment Act or the Green Party will win the next provincial election or Alberta will want to buy our clean energy, anything is possible in this political climate. Alternative, BC could implement all 32 recommendation so the Climate Action Leadership Team and then more power would be produced in addition to Site C. As you can tell much of this is tongue in cheek but it does make the point. I believe there is always hope for positive change.
For those of us committed to clean energy we will continue to pursue the provincial government to create opportunities and change its policies to come a province more inclined to work with independent power producers in an industry that brings so many benefits to First Nations.