BC Hydro: We have No Power (For you!)

Over the past few years, people in BC have often heard BC Hydro complaining of increased demand and a lack of generating capacity to deal with the strain.

Has anyone ever looked at the numbers?

Well I have.

From BC Hydros own Financial Reports (PDFs) (#1 and #2)

BC Hydro says:

Power to Energy ratios – rule of thumb
for thermal electric: MW x 8 = GWh per year
for large hydro: MW x 5 = GWh per year

OK… so capacity: 10, 200MW (50,000GWh/y) of Hydro, and 1,093MW (8,000GWh/y) of Thermal…

Which gives us about 58,000GW/h total capacity on the BC grid.

Alright… now we just need to know consumption.


Domestic sales (GWh) 51 205
Trade [Export] sales (GWh) 29 706

So while yes, BC Hydro is very much at capacity in terms of it’s ability to provide power to residents of BC. To say that there is not enough power in the grid to serve all the needs of residents of BC is simply not true.

What they should be saying is… to serve the needs of BC, *and* satisfy it’s Energy Export business… BC Hydro needs about 50% more energy than it is producing per year. Take away those sales… and all of a sudden the power situation in BC is a lot more manageable.

Now here’s the real kicker:


2005 2004 2003 2002 2001
Domestic 2,704 2,553 2,475 2,450 2,431
Trade 1,021 871 632 3,861 5,458

$1 Billion reaped on Trade for 29GWh of electricity…. however, that is “net” and does not include swaps, options, or forward sales apparently after 2002… due to “changes in US Accounting Standards”. Look at the trade numbers in 2002 and 2001, on 20,500GWh and 23,000GWh of electricity sold. So which is the “real” figure?? Did they make less than… or 3x as much as the same unit sold Domestically?? Which is it?

So yes, please… be Power Smart… but also be BC Hydro Smart. We are not, say, California.


Oh… and I meant to add.

Remember my post on Electrifying the Rail line on Vancouver Island

At it’s most recent height of use, it would have required about 10.2MW of peak power. In a Domestic system with a current annual peak of 9,000MW, and ceiling of 11,000MW, 10MW to electrify an entire freight and passenger railway all of a sudden doesn’t seem so bad does it?

And that does not include the new MWs coming online from IPPs on the Island this year.

Another fact courtesy of BC Hydro.. one big box retail store (say.. Costco) uses about 0.7MW of hydro power.

That’s about the same as all the Costcos, Home Depots, SuperStores, and Walmarts we have on Vancouver Island. If only we cared as much about this stuff as we did about BUYING stuff.