Wind energy affordable

By combining new wind with heritage hydro, we can create a reliable electricity supply

Re:  Winds of change prove costly (Nov. 11 Western News).

British Columbia has a proud history of responsibly developing its abundant natural resources to ensure both sustainability and prosperity. Today, the province faces not only the challenge of a rapidly rising demand for energy, but the imperative to slash greenhouse gas emissions — all while keeping costs as low as possible. Mr. Walker should be mindful that wind power has the ability to meet these multiple challenges while also delivering new economic benefits.

Adopting WindVision 2025: A Strategy for British Columbia will see B.C. increase its share of wind energy as a percentage of total generation in the province from the current 250 MW (megawatts) — or one per cent of electricity demand – to 5,250 MW, or 17 per cent, by the year 2025. Achieving this goal would result in $16 billion of new investment in the province, with over $3.7 billion of direct benefits to B.C. communities during the construction phase alone. Implementing this plan would generate an estimated 22,500 person-years of employment during construction, and 7,500 person-years of employment over the 20 to 25-year lifespan of the wind energy projects.

Wind energy generates electricity without polluting the air, emitting greenhouse gases, depleting precious water resources, or producing waste of any kind. The energy it takes to manufacture, erect, operate and eventually decommission a wind turbine is recouped in clean electricity within the first 15 months of operation — where 95 to 98 per cent of the area within a wind farm can be used as it was before the project was built.

It is important to note that electricity from any new generation source, whether it is wind or not, will cost more than power generated at dams built and paid off decades ago. However, wind energy is now one of the world’s most cost-effective means of generating new electricity, and technological advances improving energy capture will continue to decrease costs. Once a wind farm is built, its fuel is free, allowing electricity prices to be locked in for 20 to 25 years, protecting consumers from the unpredictable price spikes which come with other energy generation sources.

Building wind farms in B.C. communities does more than generate electricity — it also produces stable, long-term income streams and tax revenues for employees and local businesses, for our families, communities and our government.

By combining new wind with heritage hydro, we can create a reliable electricity supply mix even better suited to the needs of British Columbia than the one we have now. When all of these factors are combined, it’s clear that wind energy is the smart, clean and affordable choice for B.C.

Chris Forrest, vice-president