Oak Bay – Gordon Head MLA Andrew Weaver says a new report shows there are better options to fill British Columbia’s energy needs than the controversial Site C dam project.
Weaver said the findings of the Canadian Geothermal Energy Association show that B.C. has significant potential to develop geothermal and other renewable energy projects throughout the province.
“This is a timely report that clearly validates geothermal energy as a viable, more cost-effective alternative to Site C,” said Weaver. “Geothermal projects are cheaper to build, provide power at a more economical rate, have a minimal environmental footprint, and generate more permanent jobs throughout the province.”
The report, entitled Geothermal Energy: The Renewable and Cost Effective Alternative to Site C, estimates that geothermal energy would cost about 7.3 cents per kilowatt hour, a cent cheaper than Site C, and that geothermal plant construction equalling the energy output of the proposed Peace River dam is estimated at $3.3 billion, compared to at least $7.9 billion for Site C.
In addition to hot springs and volcanic sites that could be tapped to provide power, the study examines “hot sedimentary aquifers” that have been stumbled upon by oil and gas drilling.
Energy Minister Bill Bennett said Tuesday he expects cabinet to make a final investment decision on BC Hydro’s $8 billion dam proposal by the end of December. He said geothermal energy has potential in B.C. because unlike wind or solar power it provides a steady source of power, but he doesn’t see it as an alternative to the dam.
“It is a good resource,” Bennett said. “We do want to use it. It will be important to B.C. in the future. It’s not a way to get the 1,100 megawatts of electricity that we need now.”
Weaver pointed to findings that geothermal plants provide more permanent jobs distributed across B.C. and that the total physical and environmental footprint of geothermal projects would be substantially smaller than that of the BC Hydro dam in northeastern B.C.
“In light of this new announcement, it’s clear that the government should not proceed with the Site C project at this time,” said the deputy leader of the B.C. Green Party. “There are simply too many cheaper alternatives available to protect the ratepayer. The clean energy sector is eagerly awaiting a more fiscally responsible investment decision that would provide employment and development opportunities across the province.”
The full CanGEA report can be found at www.cangea.ca.