Rationale Behind Construction of Site C Dam on Peace River in BC Deeply Flawed

Thirty five years ago concerned ratepayers challenged BC Hydro, the BC Utilities Commission and the Provincial government to admit that electricity conservation and small power projects were preferable to flooding the farm lands of the Peace Valley. Building another dam was not the answer then, and it is not the answer today.

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Sourced through Scoop.it from: vancouver.24hrs.ca

>” Roger Bryenton & Associates, 2015 […] Conservation, plus a variety of smaller, low impact green projects can save and produce more electricity at a lower cost, with less risk, than Site C.

British Columbia has demonstrated its responsibility to live in harmony with nature when building, living and developing resources; doing “more with less”. BC Hydro is to be commended on using conservation and Independent Power producers to supply a reliable and robust power system. Ratepayers recognize these efforts and will help by saving electricity, conservation, and using small scale, “flexible” projects which can readily be adjusted to changes in demand.

Presently, we are excluding the Columbia River Treaty benefits, Alcan and Teck-Cominco power resources, and time-of- use rates which could optimize the “provincial system”. Power from the Columbia River Treaty is being sold at market rates of 3 to 4 cents/kWh rather than be included in the supply equation, where it would be worth 8 to 10 (or more) cents/kWh. Alcan and Cominco have massive dams and plants that could contribute capacity when needed, while regulations presently prevent time-of-use rates to reduce peak demand, a technique used by leading utilities worldwide.

Site C is not needed for a number of reasons:

1. Columbia River Entitlement – Both the Capacity and the Annual Energy of Site C are close to what the Columbia River entitlement offers: Site C is 1,100MW and 5,100 GWh/yr while Columbia is 1,250 MW and 4,400 GWh/yr.

2. Cost – In the original submission, the cost estimate of Site C was $5.7 Billion, or $83/MWh (8.3 cents/kWh). During hearings this increased, first to $7.9 Billion , or $114/MWh (11.4 cents/kWh).  It has increased again, to the present $8.8 billion or $126 /MWh ( 12.6 cents /kWh). By BC Hydro’s own calculations, there are literally hundreds of clean, renewable small projects that can provide capacity and energy under $114, and many more under $126/MWh.

3. Timing – Even a small amount of new power will not be needed until 2027! A massive dam takes 8 to 10 years to complete. Conservation and small power plants require a few months to 3 years to complete. Building an 1,100 MW dam if we only need 100MW is “like using a sledge hammer to crack a nut” (A. Lovins). We will not need 1100MW even by 2033 when conservation and small plants can better follow growth .

4. Capacity – Firm Capacity is only needed for a few hours every year! We do not need a huge dam to do this.

– Time of use rates. By 2020 almost 400MW of savings at $31/kW-yr would be available by significantly shifting peak loads. BC Hydro does this operationally but has refused to include it in their submitted plan.
– Pumped storage at Mica and elsewhere is economical at these prices – we do not need to flood more farmland.
– Geothermal also offers firm capacity.
– An Agreement with Alcan for some peaking, a few hours each year is feasible, but not proposed in the Site C plan.

5. Energy – Conservation, doing “more with less”, has been effective during the past 35 years, when Site C hearings originally delayed this project!

“Deep DSM” – Demand-Side Management, Option 5 of BC Hydro’s Integrated Resource Plan, can save almost 1,600MW by 2020 with energy savings of 9,600 GWh/yr. This is almost 400MW and 2000 GWh/ yr more than DSM 2. The cost is only $49/MWh; roughly half of what Site C would cost!  […]”<

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Geothermal Energy Projects in BC Show Economic Promise

Two potential geothermal energy projects near Pemberton could generate electricity for about seven cents a kilowatt hour — only slightly higher than the 5.8 cents to 6.1 cents a kilowatt hour cost estimate of the Site C dam project.

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.edmontonjournal.com

>” […]  There are no geothermal energy projects operating in B.C. but the study estimated the cost per kilowatt hour for the nine sites would range from 6.9 to 7.1 cents for Pebble Creek and Meager Creek near Pemberton to 17.6 cents for Clarke Lake near Fort Nelson.

BC Hydro senior strategic technology specialist Alex Tu said some of the projects appear promising but stressed the cost estimates are still “very uncertain” and carry a lot of risk.

“Even though it says seven cents a kilowatt hour, it’s still a risky proposition,” he said. “All the geothermal in the province is still looked at as very uncertain and very high risk but if you can make the project happen, seven cents is a good price.”

Tu noted BC Hydro invested tens of millions of dollars drilling at the two Pemberton area sites in the 1970s and 1980s but could only produce enough steam for a 20-kilowatt demonstration facility that operated for 18 months.

Geothermal power facilities work by drilling into the earth and redirecting steam or hot water into turbines that convert the energy from the fluid into electricity.

Tu said Hydro has always been open to geothermal power as an alternative energy source but no geothermal projects have ever been submitted to Hydro in any of its calls for power from independent power producers.

Hydro’s standing offer program offers to pay producers $100 a megawatt hour for smaller energy projects of up to 15 megawatts. The two Pemberton area geothermal sites each have estimated capacities of 50 to 100 megawatts.

Borealis GeoPower chief geologist Craig Dunn, whose Calgary-based firm hopes to build two geothermal power plants in B.C. by 2018, said he was excited by the Kerr Wood study, which was commissioned by BC Hydro and Geoscience BC.

“I think it’s a giant step forward in recognizing that geothermal is a viable energy opportunity for the province of British Columbia,” he said.

Dunn said the drilling and turbine technology associated with geothermal power continues to improve, making that form of energy more economically viable than ever.

“As a private developer, I know that my costs are significantly less than the estimates,” he said.

Tu estimated the cost of the two proposed Borealis geothermal sites near Valemount and Terrace at about $120 to $140 a megawatt hour but Dunn said current drilling economics — with many drilling rigs now inactive due to the oil industry slowdown — could cut that estimate by 25 to 50 per cent.  […]”<

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Economist reports proposed Site C Dam ‘dramatically’ more costly than BC gov’t claims

Peace Valley Landowners Association commissioned leading U.S. energy economist, Robert McCullough, to look at the business case for what will be province’s most expensive public infrastructure project

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Source: www.theglobeandmail.com

>”Just weeks before BC Hydro plans to begin construction of the $8.8-billion Site C project, a new report says the Crown corporation has dramatically understated the cost of producing power from the hydroelectric dam.

…Mr. McCullough, in his report, said it appears the Crown corporation BC Hydro had its thumbs on the scale to make its mega project look better than the private-sector alternatives.

“Using industry standard assumptions, Site C is more than three times as costly as the least expensive option,” Mr. McCullough concluded. “While the cost and choice of options deserve further analysis, the simple conclusion is that Site C is more expensive – dramatically so – than the renewable [and] natural gas portfolios elsewhere in the U.S. and Canada.”

The report challenges a number of assumptions that led the government to conclude that Site C is the cheapest option. Mr. McCullough noted that the province adopted accounting changes last fall that reduced the cost of power generated by Site C. He said those changes are illusory and the costs will eventually have to be paid either by Hydro ratepayers, or provincial taxpayers.

Mr. McCullough, a leading expert on power utilities in the Pacific Northwest, also disputes the rate that BC Hydro used to compare the long-term borrowing cost of capital for Site C against other projects, noting that other major utilities in North America use higher rates for such projects because they are considered risky investments. The so-called discount rate is critical to the overall cost projections, and he said the paper trail on how the Crown arrived at its figure “can only be described as sketchy and inadequate.”

The report, obtained by The Globe and Mail, will be released on Tuesday by the PVLA.

The group will call on Premier Christy Clark to delay construction to allow time for a review by Auditor-General Carol Bellringer.

Ken Boon, president of the association, said the government needs to put the project on hold because it has approved the project based on poor advice. […]”<

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