BC faces three threats from our use of energy: global warming, and the peaking of oil supplies, and natural gas supplies. BC needs policies that will accelerate investment in sustainable energy technologies, and a road map that will ensure a smooth and just transition to a sustainable energy economy, without a net loss of jobs.
by Guy Dauncey
The BC government should use taxes, subsidies andother incentives to encourage the growth of the sustainable energy sector in BC, while ending subsidies and grants to natural gas and other fossil fuel producers. The BCUC should guarantee a retail price of 7 cents/kWh for the first 3000 MW of new wind and other sustainable energy capacity, for a period of 10 years, and support the development of tidal and wave energy by guaranteeing a price of 20 cents/kWh for 10 years for pilot plants generating up to a total of 6 MW. The price impact of guaranteeing 20 cents/kWh for 6 MW is very small. 6 MW is 0.05% of BC’s power capacity, so the additional 14 cents/kWh above today’s price comes to 0.05% of 14 cents = 0.007 cents/kWh, or just $1 on a typical annual household power bill of 15,000 kWh.
Fossil Fuel Moratoria:
Fossil fuels have provided humanity with an incredible source of cheap, abundant energy. There is now a strong scientific consensus, however, that our use of fossil fuels is the leading cause of global warming, which is bringing a dangerous disruption of the climate, weather, and ecosystems around the world. The long term environmental costs of burning fossil fuels are no longer worth the benefits. The BC government should place a moratorium on the use of coal and natural gas to generate electricity after 2010, while retaining the existing moratorium on the use of nuclear energy, and instating new moratoria on the use of coalbed methane and methane hydrates, and a moratorium on the use of garbage incineration as a source of power, due to the release of toxic pollutants.
A sustainable energy strategy for BC will generate many new jobs, and stimulate the economy. Studies have shown that sustainable energy projects create 60 – 90 times more jobs than fossil fuel projects, and many new jobs will also be created through energy efficiency programs. The Helimax report on BC’s wind energy potential shows that if 1,200 MW of wind energy were installed by 2011 (a $1 billion investment), this would generate 8000 job-years (eg 800 jobs for ten-years). If a wind turbine assembly plant was built with a cluster of suppliers, this would generate 50,000 job-years.
We owe it to our children, our grandchildren, and the future sustainability of the whole planet to stop using fossil fuels, and to embrace sustainable energy wholeheartedly. The technologies are ready, the people of BC are ready, and the world is ready.
Guy Dauncey is an author, speaker and consultant who specializes in green building and ecovillage development. He is the author of Stormy Weather: 101 Solutions to Global Climate Change (New Society Publishers, 2001), and is President of the newly forming BC Sustainable Energy Association. This article has a few modifications and additions from the original submission to BC Hydro.