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Cancel Site C, then go solar

Help entrepreneurs and communities inject cheap non-hydro renewable energy into our public grid

Cancel Site C, then go solar

Open letter to Premier John Horgan:

Mr. Horgan, do you want your legacy to be the political leader who poured more money than water over the edge of the geologically unstable Site C?

If not, then use your leadership skills, admit a mistake, cancel this dam. You have made tough decisions regarding the COVID-19 crisis, and most citizens have supported your action against this viral pandemic. Thank you.

So now take equally meaningful action against the crisis of climate change. Divert resources being wasted on Site C to support renewable energy like solar, wind and geothermal.

Like COVID-19, climate change is a dangerous public health crisis; but unlike COVID-19, it’s getting little attention from your government. After 20 years of talk, there has been no substantive action to decrease the use of fossil fuels and, unsurprisingly, no reduction of carbon emissions.

Even now, smoke and fires all over the west coast of North America are polluting the atmosphere, creating huge economic and public health disasters. So any action to minimize climate change will save lives.

Meaningful action means producing lots more non-hydro clean energy to replace that 80 per cent of our total energy presently obtained by burning dirty fossil fuels. Hydro power is about the remaining 20 per cent, roof-top solar is a tiny 0.006 per cent, and wind or solar farms are rare.

A joint UVic/ UBC/Oregon State study has confirmed that our need for clean electricity will double as we transition to electric transportation and a non-fossil fuel economy.

So we need you to make two key decisions; cancel Site C, then support the production of alternate types of renewable energy. I think you will get citizen support for these actions because you will create: local jobs to build and operate renewable energy projects like wind, solar and geothermal; electric power at less than half the price of Site C; tax revenues from solar and wind farms; and more energy-secure communities.

Because wind and solar are relatively cheap, energy suppliers and maybe even municipalities will fill the vacuum created by ditching Site C. And alternate renewable energy projects will require little or no government money; certainly not the billions you are pouring into the failing Site C dam project, or the over one billion you take from taxpayers through government fossil fuel subsidies.

In 2015, a group of people in Cowichan pooled our money and made the biggest citizen-led bulk buy of solar panels in B.C. history. I used my share to build a small solar farm near Maple Bay. And with no subsidies or financial help of any kind, it makes a small profit producing clean electricity at less than half the cost of Site C energy. So it can be done.

Now, five years later solar energy costs have dropped so sharply that covering a roof with solar panels and purchasing a second-hand electric car will put anyone’s bank account in the black.

The citizens of Hudson’s Hope have the largest municipal solar farm in B.C., saving $75,000 a year; the City of Duncan plans to cover its firehall with solar panels; and the City of Nelson has a citizen-owned solar farm — and so on.

But this small solar energy revolution is stalling due to poor policies from BC Hydro — which your government is supposed to control. Cancelling Site C and better regulating BC Hydro are the two key decision points to get this energy revolution going.

Please help entrepreneurs and communities inject cheap non-hydro renewable energy into our public grid — as climate change vaccines to heal an unhealthy atmosphere.

Peter Nix

Cowichan Carbon Buster

Maple Bay

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