BC Hydro on its latest bulletin and remote community access to clean energy

A screenshot of a Youtube video from BC Hydro's 'Electrify BC' program
BC Hydro's 'Electrify BC' program. Screenshot courtesy of BC Hydro.
Pamela Haasen - CICK - SmithersBC | 06-10-2021

BC Hydro shared statistics about BC residents' grasp on clean energy sources in an information bulletin released on October 1st.

In the bulletin, titled "Carbon footprint confusion – many British Columbians unaware of best way to reduce emissions," BC Hydro states that replacing hydroelectricity for other renewable sources won't have the climate impact that most British Columbians believe. A new survey conducted for BC Hydro found about 15 per cent of British Columbians think their power comes from "dirty" sources like coal.

"This misconception about solar has about 40 per cent of British Columbian households thinking solar panels would be the most effective way to reduce their carbon footprint when compared to buying an electric vehicle or installing a heat pump to replace a gas furnace. Of this group, about 85 per cent of those without solar panels indicated they are interested in installing them," the bulletin states.

In fact, about half of British Columbians mistakenly believe solar is the cleanest option. When asked what the cleanest way to generate electricity is in the survey, British Columbians responded with:

  1. Solar (45 per cent)
  2. Hydroelectricity (24 per cent)
  3. Wind (22 per cent)
  4. Nuclear (10 per cent)

“Switching the power source for your home in B.C. means that you are replacing one source of clean electricity with another source of clean electricity,” says Simi Heer, BC Hydro spokesperson, stated in the bulletin. “B.C.’s hydroelectricity is already clean, so if you truly want to fight climate change, a better way to go would be to switch to an electric vehicle or a heat pump for both heating and cooling.”

CICK News spoke with Bob Gammer, Community Relations Manager for Northern BC with BC Hydro, about Hydro's own responsibility when it comes to supplying clean energy (hydroelectricity) for all communities of BC.

Hydro's Electrification BC Campaign (which BC Hydro is spending over $260M on over the next five years) is a campaign to "build a sustainable economy in B.C. We’ll continue to support conservation efforts, while also offering new programs and incentives to help British Columbians make the switch from fossil fuels to clean hydroelectricity to power their homes, businesses, and vehicles."

But many communities in British Columbia (many of which are Indigenous) can't "go green" as easily. These communities are remote or off-grid communities, which are not powered by a main grid supplied by hydro.

According to a 2013 Natural Resources Canada study, "there are currently 86 remote communities in British Columbia (BC) with a total population of 24,068, of which 25 communities are Aboriginal with 7,619 people and 61 communities are non-Aboriginal with 16,449 inhabitants." These areas are powered separately from sources such as wind turbines (and Hydro) or, in the case of Hartley Bay BC (a coastal community that averages five metres of rainfall each year), diesel.

CICK News spoke to Bob Gammer about how BC Hydro's energy program reflects on the needs of smaller communities who want to use cleaner energy but can't.

Listen to the full interview with Bob Gammer below: