Conservation is one of the big solutions proposed by people opposed to the emerging green power projects in BC and elsewhere. Fine, nice thing to say, but how are you going to do that? To reduce consumption you need to raise the price of power and by a lot. Raising power rates is political suicide. Over and over again people make it clear they are happy with cheap power. One of the threats the advocates for public power use is that private power will cost more.
BC Hydro has worked hard to reduce consumption in BC and as of the end of fiscal 2008 they achieved a savings of 2,844 GW/h per year. There is still a huge reduction needed to make any sort of realistic dent and this is in an era of when our population is still growing. The only way we will get people to make a lot more changes in their electricity use, to get them to conserve, is to raise the rates of power dramatically. To get major conservation of power in BC we would be looking at an immediate doubling of electricity rates and a goal of getting the rates to four to five times as high as now.
Even if here in BC could dramatically reduce our per capita use of electricity, there is still a lot of brown power out there in other locations. When we produce green power here, we reduce the need for coal fired power plants elsewhere.
Each kilowatt of green power from BC is one that does not need to come from some other source. Each run of the river hydro project has defacto zero CO2 emissions versus all the coal and gas plants in the rest of North America. If we do not build them here, it is going to that much harder for other regions to reduce their CO2.
We have a responsibility in this region to make use of the resources we have to provide for people everywhere. We do not live in isolation in our houses, cities, provinces or countries. In BC we are sitting on a large part of the renewable energy solution for all of North America, we owe it to everyone to develop as much run of the river hydro as is sustainable on our rivers as quickly as is possible.