Friday, February 13, 2009

Price of power

We really do not pay much for power in Canada, especially not in BC. The average price in the US in 2008 was 11.35 cents per KWh - about 14 cents in Canadian terms. This is for residential power.

There is a huge variation across the US - at the top end in Hawaii it is 35.74 cents US per KWh. That is close to 45 cents in Canadian, or more than six times as much as we pay in BC.

In Canadian dollar terms, the cheapest power in the US is about 9.2 cents per KWh. In California they pay more than twice what we pay for out power.

In 2008 48.3% of the power in the US was coal fired. Renewable energy provided less than 10%, a smaller share than it did in 1994.

You can find lots of data on this at the following website

I raise this to show how much more we could charge for power. Conservation will not work well here until we charge realistic rates for electrical power.

I also raise some this information to remind people that in the US 2000 TWh of coal fired power is being produced and according to climatologists we have to phase all of this out. People have to understand the scale of what needs to be done to achieve this phase out.

We need to build about 700 projects of the scope and scale of the Plutonic Power Bute Inlet project as soon as possible. This assumes that there is no need for more power, which is a bad assumption to make. Realistically we need to build 1200 projects like this over the next 20 years. If not that, there is a huge market for many more nuclear power plants and vast wind farms. People in Ontario should expect that Lake Ontario will be ringed by windmills in 20 years.

Few places can offer as many options for this sort of power as BC can. BC should take on the task of building an average of 10 Bute Inlet scale projects per year for each of the next 20 years. Private businesses are willing to invest money to build the infrastructure at no cost or risk to the public. In return each watt of power they produce brings coal fired phase out closer.

Alaska and Yukon could also offer a lot of locations for run of the river hydro, but they need to be connected to the grid to do this. This means that not only does the highway #37 electrification be built, but it has to be built all they way through to Alaska and it has to a large scale line, ideally several 500Kv lines side by side, something significantly larger than the current powerline in BC from the WAC Bennet dam to the Lower Mainland.

Building a big electrical pipeline from Alaska to the lower 48 states is going to become crucial to provide the power needed to make the transition. The geography of the region is simply too good for run of the river not to be a part of the solution.

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