More Dams, More Conservation Not the Solution To Rising Energy Demand

More Dams, More Conservation Not the Solution To Rising Energy Demand

By Tim Murray

A major news item on BC Global TV news (Dec. 1/2014) was a story about the need for BC Hydro to meet increasing energy demands:

In a 1:50 minute newsclip to highlight this message, BC Hydro spokesman Chris O’Riley said that due to this current 3 day cold snap, the corporation was expecting a record peak load of 10,100 megawatts tonight. Global TV emphasized the problem by giving examples of plummeting temperatures across the province, with some towns breaking records.

The conversation then shifted to the big picture of increasing power demands in the coming decades. A short video of the new generator being installed at the Mica Dam appeared on the screen. The implication was that increasing power demands must be satisfied by more power generation, involving additional billions in debt financing, which will inevitably be reflected in higher rates. Then O’Riley spoke again:

“We have a growing load forecast of 40% over the next 20 years, which is a function of migration and the growing population we have in the province.” Those were his exact words. End of story.

Leaving the supply question of more dam-building aside, what is interesting is that BC Hydro’s website, with its “Power Smart” suggestions, focuses on the need for energy efficiency and conservation. It says, “The first and best way to meet our future electricity needs is through conservation and energy efficiency. Through its Power Smart program, BC Hydro is a global leader in conservation, providing programs and incentives to encourage customers to use less power.”

Note that nothing is said about reducing the number of customers who use power. That would be good advice, would it not? But that’s off the table. We must accept whatever number of customers arrive and serve them. That’s Hydro’s mandate. Anticipate and plan for the future. Don’t turn off the tap, just keep mopping the floor. This is “global leadership”.

BC Hydro even goes so far as to tell us how we can “Green Our Life” by walking more, driving less, riding a bike, sharing your car, switching to transit——you get the picture.

It’s a theme which the willfully blind environmental movement echos, one that Al Gore made famous. According to people like Gore, conservation trivialities are the only way you reduce “demand”, right?. The other way—-the self-evident way—-would be to reduce population pressure. But we can’t go there, can we? Just as we can’t point out the obvious solution to traffic gridlock or skyrocketing house prices or the relentless pressure to ‘densify’ Vancouver’s residential neighbourhoods.

Instead, we must kick the ball into the court of individual people and their responsibility to make ‘smart’, responsible choices. As Hydro proclaims, “Everyday Choices Make a Difference.” But the everyday choice that would really make a difference—-the one that is not mentioned—– would be the choice of Immigration Minister Chris Alexander and his cabinet to vastly reduce the number of Hydro customers who come through the immigration gate.

At first glance, the green “Left” and the “Right” seem to take different approaches to these problems, but not really. Regarding electricity, they both want to promote energy “efficiency”. Regarding space for housing, they both propose more “efficient” use of the land through more densification. In other words, they both want to push for more efficiency while allowing population growth to erase all of those efficiency gains. Makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it? Cut our per capita energy and land consumption in half, but double the population.

And when that is done, both promote yet more population growth through continuing mass immigration and the intake of God knows how many refugees over the next 30 years. Then, they press on for even more “efficiencies” and even “smaller”, power-smart housing units to mitigate this growth. At this rate, I expect that soon Vancouverites and Victorians will be living cheek-to-jowl in insulated, energy-smart shoe-boxes. But no worries, there will be more “diversity” to offset their claustrophobia.

Recently, Immigration Watch Canada drew much attention for hanging a banner from a Richmond overpass that linked traffic gridlock with immigration. In contrast to the support they received from ordinary people in the comment sections of newspapers,  the politicians and grievance-mongers reacted angrily. NDP MP Don Davies even rose in the House of Commons to denounce IWC. Obviously the demonstration hit a nerve.

Perhaps the next IWC demonstration should take place in front of the headquarters of BC Hydro. But instead of placards or banners that say “Stop rising energy costs. Cut immigration”, the message should be “Stop higher Hydro rates. Stop population growth”. That would lead the media and onlookers to ask two questions. (1) “Can’t we just use energy more wisely?”. Answer: “Yes, but there are limits to conservation”. and (2) “How would you propose to stop population growth?” Answer:” 70% of our population growth is driven by our unjustifiably high immigration levels. Draw the obvious conclusion.”

Their predictable response has always been : “A lot of BC’s population growth is a result of inter-provincial migration that we can’t do anything about.” Answer: “Actually, most of the province’s population growth is a result of off-shore immigration.”

In other words, mass immigration leads to more population growth. That leads to more energy demand which leads to announcements that more dams are needed. Higher energy rates follow.

Almost inevitably, one can expect MP Don Davies or another of his ilk to stand up and say, “We welcome new energy consumers from all over the world. Canada is a nation of energy-consumers. Energy consumers built this country. The only people who have a right to demand fewer energy consumers are our First Nations people.”

See what I mean : Same logic, same idiocy.