LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Site C dam isn’t power smart

The government is not paying attention to the plummeting cost of solar and wind energy

To the editor,

Re: Site C discussion comes to Harbour City, Oct. 8.

The site C inquiry was hosting the public at the Coast Bastion Hotel on Tuesday. From B.C. Hydro’s own website, we found that the amount of power that is to be generated, 1.1 billion watts, divided by the budgeted cost $8.8 billion, indicates that B.C. taxpayers are going to pay $8 per watt of Site C power.

Two years ago at our home on Gabriola Island, we installed 10,000 watts of solar panels on our roof at a cost of $2.20 per watt. For two years our solar panels have generated more than 10 megawatts per year even here on the cloudy south coast.

Why would there need to be an inquiry to determine whether B.C. taxpayers should pay $8 or $2.20 per watt for any new electric power generation?

The question gets more compelling and more simple. Alberta has begun a rebate program offering 75 cents for every watt (to a reasonable maximum) of solar that homeowners and businesses are willing to install on their roofs. Alberta taxpayers are paying 75 cent for each new watt of generating power they add to their grid. B.C. taxpayers are going to pay $8 or more? How can the answer to this question be that elusive?

Additional benefits include a more robust and efficient electric grid for B.C., 100 times as many jobs to install those solar panels and no cost overruns, guaranteed.

The only answer to the mystery of why we would spend $8 is that the government and the people of British Columbia are not paying attention to the plummeting cost of solar and wind energy.

Two years ago the price of solar meant a return on investment of four per cent for our home installation. Factor in the falling price of solar with a 75 cents per watt rebate, and our ROI would be closer to seven to eight per cent with zero risk. Taxpayers get their new generating capacity for 75 cents per watt and the people and businesses of British Columbia get a healthy return on their investment in solar.

Richard Ralphs, Gabriola Island

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