UR News

Site C Dam and Powerplant Not Needed

Roger Bryenton

By Roger Bryenton

Site C Power: Not Needed
Roger Bryenton & Associates, 2015


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.

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!

BC Hydro’s analysis shows these dramatic DSM 5 savings can would occur a full 7 years before needed! more Roger Bryenton 604 210-2046

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