Wednesday, January 8, 2014

BC Hydro is not isolated from the rest of the grid

BC Hydo is part of a larger grid which means what we do here has an impact on the others, what they impacts us.   All the power we produce in BC is not just our power, it is part of the Western Interconnection.   People in BC need to understand we are not on our own.

In North America the grid is connected north-south as opposed to east west.    What we do in BC is more connected with LA than with Saskatoon.
Interconnections in North America

The idea that we can be power self sufficient in BC is a fallacy because we are part of a much larger grid.  We can produce more power than we need but that does not make us self sufficient.   Our connection to the rest of the interconnection is a benefit to us and the whole interconnection.

Since we produce most of our power from hydroelectric sources, we  are in a position to turn on and off the power.   Large scale coal and nuclear power plants can not shut themselves down overnight.   They have to continue producing power all night.   In BC was are in a position to buy this power over night which means their power is not wasted

Longer term what we can do in BC is displace a lot of coal power in the west.   Each time we add more micro-hydro to the grid, there is less demand from more coal power.    If we were adding the new green power faster, we could push the decommissioning of more coal fired power.

Large scale power plants are big capital investments, they need long term time frames to build.   For a nuclear or coal fired power-plant the initial capital investment means that once it is built you need decades of operation to defray that cost.   It is a reason we have not seen massive decommissioning but it is also a reason new capital intensive power-plants have not been common in North America.

We have seen an oversupply in electrical power in North America for some years now, this has been going on long enough to inhibit new "brown" electrical power.   When the prices do rise again, realistically only smaller scale green power will be able to meet the needs.   Here in BC there are numerous run of the river and wind projects that could be constructed rather quickly when the price does rise.