This week, researchers with the PICS supported 2060 Project highlighted in a Globe and Mail opinion piece the gaps in a recent British Columbia Utilities Commission report on the controversial Site C hydroelectric dam.
On Nov. 1, British Columbia’s energy regulator said that the Site C, currently under construction in the northeast of the province, is not needed. The same power could be provided by alternative options such as wind energy, cheap energy storage, aggressive energy conservation measures and re-opening a natural-gas-fired generation station instead.
The commission concluded that additional requirements resulting from the electrification of transport, heating and industry should not be taken into account within energy demand forecasts because the timing and magnitude of deep decarbonization is unknown.
Researchers from the 2060 Project argued that multiple modelling assessments performed over the last couple of years are indeed converging on similar ballpark numbers on the likely new electricity needs of deep decarbonization. They say that Paris Agreement obligations have also sketched out the sort of schedule required, with restrictions on fossil-fuel furnaces and boilers needing to be imposed around 2030; on gasoline and diesel vehicles, as early as 2025.
The provincial government on Thursday responded to the BCUC’s report, requesting answers to a series of pointed questions, including whether the commission took into account potential increases in electrical power demand required to meet climate change objectives. The commission said it would strive to provide clarification as soon as possible, noting that the additional questions did not constitute a “re-opening of the inquiry.”
Energy economist Mark Jaccard helped design BC’s carbon tax, and he still supports it. But he questions just how politically viable a stringent tax—at the level needed to meet climate targets—can really be. So he also continues to explore how other policies that the public find more acceptable could work.