B.C. not reaching wind-energy potential with focus on Site C dam

He says it would be easy to boost B.C.’s economy with $10-billion worth of proposed wind-energy projects but they’re continuously stifled while the province and B.C. Hydro remain focused on building the Site C dam.

He says wind-energy is being overlooked as the price of renewable drops. B.C. Hydro is estimating onshore wind projects could cost between $90 and $305 per megawatt hour – compared to Site C’s hydroelectricity at a cost of about $88 per megawatt hour, according to The Province.

Baillie told The Province he’s concerned wind-energy will “sit on the sidelines” in B.C. as its current hydroelectric facilities generate 95 per cent of electricity, while Site C is expected to bring another 1,100 megawatts of capacity.

A recent B.C. Major Project Inventory, according to The Province, revealed 18 “proposed or on-hold wind-energy projects” with a total capacity of more than 4,000 megawatts worth about $10 billion.

In an emailed response, B.C. Hydro told The Province it’s currently processing five applications for below 15-megawatt wind projects.

The Province quotes Energy Minister Bill Bennett as saying B.C. “is not going to purchase electricity that we don’t need,” – referencing Site C’s expectation of providing enough electricity to power 450,000 homes each year. He does concede, however that the opening of new mines, LNG facilities, and the rate of economic and population growth may affect the current demand forecast.

B.C.’s Clean Energy Act states Site C is the last dam being built in B.C., after which the province will produce whatever renewable technologies can create the most cost-effective electricity, according to Minster Bennett.

Currently, the only wind project under development in B.C. is the $400 million, 185 megawatt Meikle Wind project in Tumbler Ridge – expected to be operational late 2016.

According to The Province report, B.C. has about 488 megawatts of installed wind-energy capacity – fourth behind Ontario, Alberta and Washington State.

Some industry insiders have said B.C. Hydro’s monopoly creates a volatile environment for new energy resources, while others credit a strong U.S. tax-credit program and Europe’s primary focus on wind-energy.

Click here to read the entire Province article.

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