PowerBC means more local jobs

This editorial appeared in the February 3, 2016 edition of the Interior News. You can download the original version of it here. 

PowerBC is an energy strategy released in November that is worth further consideration as our hydro bills hit their peak during even this warm winter.

PowerBC means more local jobs for BCers, holding electricity rates down so your bill doesn’t skyrocket, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and freeing up BC Hydro to pursue newer methods of production.

It is the BC NDP alternative to spending $9 billion of taxpayers’ dollars on the Site C dam for electricity that isn’t needed now and is projected, if the project is completed, to lose at least $800 million for BC Hydro during its first four years of operation.

The three main components are a public building and residential retrofit program, reinvesting in existing BC Hydro infrastructure, and increasing wind, solar and other new technologies. An extensive retrofitting program for public buildings like schools and hospitals to reduce consumption does a number of things. It means jobs in communities all around the province. Rather than travelling far away people can work close to home. Work can be spread out over years in smaller projects, which makes it easier for locally-owned companies to bid on them. The jobs per public dollar spent on retrofitting outstrips large dam construction projects. And the end result is lower energy consumption and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions.

A residential retrofit program connected to your hydro bill makes it more affordable to have the work done on your home, again improving local employment. With electricity rates skyrocketing — a 29 per cent increase under the Christy Clark government — a retrofitted home will mean more affordable bills.The strategy also involves reinvesting in existing BC Hydro facilities to improve generation anddistribution. Again, this will mean more jobs,although in specific parts of the province where traveland camp work may be necessary. However, this new production from existing facilities can be done at a fraction of the cost per unit of electricity compared to Site C.

And finally, legislation passed by the BC Liberals prohibits BC Hydro from creating solar, wind and other types of projects. PowerBC allows BC Hydro to move into this field with private companies building the facilities and the power owned by us.

PowerBC is an energy strategy worth pursuing for many reasons.

– Doug Donaldson is the MLA for Stikine.