"How will your party work to promote an overall transition to an overall clean and renewable energy future?"
Andrew Weaver replied (11:43):
“Change the mandate of BC Hydro; Stop the Site C dam which has killed the clean energy sector. We would ensure that we would partner with First Nations, to ensure that we get distributive power as we need it. The problem with Site C being produced is it has essentially killed the Wind Energy Association’s involvement in BC. They are now in Alberta. In addition, the Canadian Geothermal Energy Association has left. People have given up on BC for clean energy where we used to be leaders. And we believe that we can regain that leadership by ensuring new capacity is done in partnership with local communities and BC Hydro’s mandate is starting to get into the business of matching consumers with producers of power and ensuring that they level the load but also to ensure that that they’re there to get power from where it’s produced to where it’s consumed. “
“How will your parties support both the creation and sustainability of local jobs in the clean and renewable energy sector?”
George Heyman replied (15:59):
“The cost of renewables continues to drop. The technology and efficiency of renewable continues to get better, which makes them of course that much more viable an option, whether for a domestic consumption or for export. So I think those two elements go hand in hand. If we develop renewables on a distributed pattern around the province, that’s good for communities. It’s good for minimizing transmission loss, and it’s good for a distributed system that is reliable. We have these great dams that act as batteries. In addition, battery storage technology is improving. Andrew is quite right that the Canadian Wind Energy Association essentially threw up its hands. When I meet with members of the Energy Forum and Clean Energy BC I get a lot of frustrated comments about feeling held back by low demand in BC for the foreseeable future because of this massive expenditure on one big dam that is squeezing everything else out. Same is true for geothermal and it’s worth noting that Harry Swain, as head of the joint review panel that reviewed Site C said once again; that 30 years ago BC hydro was told to explore geothermal. Nobody did it. It should be done because geothermal has opportunities all over BC both for energy production but also for spin off job creation by recapturing and reusing the heat from geothermal in any number of applications whether its greenhouses, whether its horticulture whether its spas, whether its tourism. There is tremendous local economic opportunity that is indirect jobs from geothermal, there is such a range of economic opportunity that can be distributed in every community around BC, that frankly it stumps me why we’re not doing it, but we’re certainly looking forward to bringing it into play in BC for an entirely new economic future. “
Alternatively Liberal Candidate Jordan Sturdy replied (20:38):
“Site C is as referred to as one of those batteries that is going to allow us bring on a whole range of renewable. There was some mention of geothermal and the geothermal opportunity we see this regularly and we in fact 35 million dollars was spent trying to develop geothermal opportunity. Problem was the geology wasn’t right; the heat was there the water was not it is not some panacea. There is opportunity and we acknowledge that there is opportunity and there will be increasing opportunity to access and to be contributors to the overall grid but we do need the base power in place and Site C will serve us for 100 years to come”
Editor’s Note: Sturdy is likely speaking of the Meager Creek geothermal project where BC Hydro was commissioned to drill multiple drillholes. (http://publications.gc.ca/collections/collection_2013/rncan-nrcan/M183-2-6914-eng.pdf pg 43-49) The geothermal potential was high, but BC Hydro ended up cancelling the project.
It should also be noted that this was in 1974.
The candidates were eventually asked a question directly about geothermal energy. From the director of our association who asked:
“What are your party views on processing more geothermal tenure permits?”
Andrew replied (41:08):
“We are the only jurisdiction on the Pacific Rim to not have geothermal producing power for the grid. It’s remarkable, yet we have some of the most amazing sites. I stood with the Canadian Geothermal Energy Association at press conferences pointing out that we’re missing out on an opportunity. We know the environmental footprint of geothermal is very, very small. Its firm power, its power that can be used to load level more intermittent sources. The mapping that has been done by the Canadian Geothermal Energy Association points out that we have a remarkable potential here. So what is our party view? This is one of the examples of where we believe that the direction that we need to go is that we need to partner with those who have the expertise. BC Hydro does not have that expertise. BC Hydro is dam builders. BC Hydro needs to partner with experts and work with the actual establishment of point to point grid transmission systems to ensure that BC’s vast areas of renewable including geothermal which we have a huge potential are hooked into the North American Grid and get others off coal, because the reality is coal has no future, natural gas has no future; the only future is in clean renewable energy and we should continue leading that particularly in the area of geothermal energy.”
George Heyman Replied (42:33):
“I am not an expert on geothermal, but I do know that it’s a tremendous potential reservoir of power; there’s no reason to believe that it doesn’t exist in abundance in British Columbia given our situation. There has been reference to one project that didn’t do particularly well, but there were reasons for that certainly not necessarily reasons that apply to other developments. I also mentioned earlier that Harry Swain of the Site C Joint Review Panel said one of the problems BC Hydro has is that they were told 30 years ago to explore the potential for geothermal and it is the responsibility of a public sector body like BC Hydro to actually assist with exploring geothermal opportunities because that is a very capital and intensive part of development. That is an area where a payoff once we use the leverage of a large public utility to assist with identifying opportunities for this industry. So I think geothermal is part of the mix- I don’t have a specific answer pertaining to tenure permits question because I simply don’t know the mechanics of that, but in general terms I think that geothermal has a strong role to play. It has a great job creation potential because of associated indirect benefits instead we are yet choking off yet another great source of employment [and] great source of economic benefits around British Columbia’s great source of firm power because we’re investing in technology of the 20th century whose cost profile only rises and has historically only risen from original estimates to final costs.”
Feras Obeid, CanGEA Policy Intern
Katie Huang, CanGEA Operations Manager