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Energy Self-Reliant States 2020: Third Edition

By Maria McCoy and John Farrell - Institute for Local Self-Reliance, September 2020

If each U.S. state took full advantage of its renewable resources, how much electricity would it produce? How much of its own electricity consumption could renewable energy fulfill? Would in-state renewable generation be enough to charge electric vehicles and power electric heating, too? In 2010, ILSR published the first national overview of state renewable electricity potential with the second edition of Energy Self-Reliant States (ESRS). At the time, most states were setting ambitious goals to attain 25 percent renewable electricity.

Now, several states and over 100 U.S. cities have made truly ambitious commitments to 100 percent renewable power. Fortunately, this third edition finds a better technical outlook and a brighter economic picture than a decade ago. States have much better renewable energy resources than they thought. Also, the costs of renewable electricity sources, like wind and solar, have declined precipitously. The 20-year average cost (often called the “levelized cost”) of solar electricity has declined from around $0.200 per kilowatt-hour for small scale projects to $0.091 per kilowatt-hour. The decline is even more dramatic for utility-scale solar, with the levelized cost falling from $0.120 to about $0.037 per kilowatt-hour. Wind energy costs have declined by significant margins, as well, from around $0.13 to $0.04 per kilowatt-hour.

Clean energy is not only affordable, it is a big contributor to the U.S. economy. At the start of 2020, the clean energy industry employed 3.3 million people – that’s 40 percent of America’s energy workforce. The clean energy sector is strong and growing stronger; the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that solar installers and wind technicians will be the fastest growing occupations in the next decade.

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Climate change policy in B.C. must deal with controversies – Kinder Morgan, Site C, and more

By Elizabeth Perry - Work and Climate Change Report, December 4, 2017

In his November 30 article, “Where is B.C. headed on climate action?”, Marc Lee of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives begins with a bit of history – November 2017 marks the 10 year anniversary of the passage of  B.C.’s  Greenhouse Gas Reduction Targets Act, followed by B.C.’s carbon tax, the first in North America, in 2008.  His overview then discusses climate change policy since the Liberal government and its Climate Leadership Team (CLT)  were replaced by the government of the New Democratic Party in Summer 2017.  Specific issues raised: the new government may still be considering the  development of Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) on the north coast; an inadequate annual increase to the carbon tax of just $5 per tonne per year (instead of the $10 per tonne recommended by the CLT); the need for a public inquiry into fracking  (as called for by the CCPA and 16 other organizations); and the need for leadership on more stringent regulation of methane emissions.  The author concludes:  “The BC government’s opposition to Kinder-Morgan’s TransMountain pipeline expansion is laudable. But there is much left to be done on climate action in BC… We need an action plan commensurate with the urgency posed by climate change and the aspirations of leadership claimed by BC politicians.”

Although Marc Lee has written about the controversial Site C Dam project previously, he doesn’t include it in this overview, although it is still very much a live issue.   Following the Report of the Independent Review of the B.C. Utilities Commission (BCUC)  on November 1, the government indicated it would decide by December 31 whether to proceed with the project or not.  On December 1, the B.C. Green Party, the government’s coalition partner, sent an Open Letter to the Premier, arguing for cancellation of Site C on the grounds that it is likely to continue to exceed budget, and that alternative sources of energy are now cheaper.  Questions about the job creation forecasts used to justify the original decision have also been raised – most relying on the latest analysis from the University of British Columbia Water Governance Institute. Their latest  full report  was released on November 23; a 2-page Briefing Note also released argues that terminating Site C and pursuing  the alternative scenario put forth by BCUC would create three times as many jobs as the construction and operation of Site C by 2054, albeit with short-term job losses.  The longer term scenario forecasts jobs in site remediation, energy conservation, and alternative energy projects, including in the Peace River region.  Commentary on the jobs debates has appeared in “Digging for The Truth on Site C Dam Job Numbers ” in DeSmog Canada (Nov. 16) and  in “ A BC without Site C best bet for taxpayers ” an Opinion piece in The Tyee written by  Jay Ritchlin of the David Suzuki Foundation, which labels the call for current construction jobs as “a red herring”.

Also in The Tyee:Construction Unions Pressing for Completion of Site C” (Nov. 24) , which takes a deep dive into a recent press conference of the Allied Hydro Council of BC, a bargaining agent for unions at previous large hydro projects, and an advocate of the Site C project. The detailed article, outlining ties between the Council and the NDP government, is by Sarah Cox, author of  Breaching the Peace: The Site C Dam and a Valley’s Stand Against Big Hydro (UBC Press, forthcoming Spring 2018).    The Allied Hydro Council submission to the BCUC Inquiry is here .

Just Transition — Part 4: the Highlands of Hydro

By Chris Silver - DeSmog UK, November 22, 2018

Site C Dam Decision Causes Friction Within NDP Ranks Ahead of Provincial Council Meeting

By Sarah Cox - DeSmog Canada, February 2, 2018

When B.C. cabinet members arrive at the NDP’s provincial council meeting tomorrow in New Westminster, they will face a group of “very concerned” delegates and party members who are urging the government to reconsider its decision to proceed with the Site C dam.

We’re not going to let this rest,” said Jef Keighley, vice-president of the Surrey South NDP constituency association. “The NDP campaigned on the whole concept of transparency so let’s be transparent.”

Keighley is one of 400 people — the majority of them NDP members and supporters — who attended a Site C Summit in Victoria last weekend aimed at making the government accountable for its decision to continue with Site C and outlining an action plan to stop the $10.7 billion project on the Peace River.

We believe the NDP cabinet was misled in its ill-considered decision to proceed with Site C,” states a letter from summit participants to NDP provincial council delegates and observers, a copy of which was provided to DeSmog Canada.

A reconsideration and reversal of that decision, sooner rather than later, is critical to the long-term interest of the people of B.C.”

The letter says it is “imperative” that the provincial council agenda be amended to include a discussion on Site C. The main items on the agenda are currently the upcoming provincial budget and proportional representation.  

The council, which meets four times a year, is the governing body of the NDP between conventions, with input on issues from cabinet and the NDP’s provincial office. Constituency associations around the province elect voting delegates to the council.

Alternatives to the Site C Dam Will Create Way More Jobs: UBC Analysis

By Judith Lavoie - DeSmog Canada, November 28, 2017

Alternatives to the $10 billion Site C dam would produce significantly more jobs than construction of the controversial hydroelectric dam, according to a new study led by the University of British Columbia.

The analysis by researchers from UBC’s Program on Water Governance found that if Site C is scrapped, there would be modest job losses in the short-term — 18 to 30 per cent until 2024 — but job gains of between 22 and 50 per cent through 2030.*

A recent three-month investigation conducted by the B.C. Utilities Commission found alternatives to Site C, including wind energy and conservation measures to reduce provincial electricity demand, could replace the dam at an equal or lower unit energy cost.

By 2054, the B.C. Utilities Commission alternative portfolio will have created three times as many jobs as Site C,” Karen Bakker, one of the authors of the report and co-director of the Program on Water Governance, told DeSmog Canada.

Site remediation, geothermal construction and energy conservation will create thousands of jobs each year,” she said.

Alternative energy, such as wind power, creates many more jobs for every dollar spent, Bakker told DeSmog Canada.

Digging for The Truth on Site C Dam Job Numbers

By Sarah Cox - DeSmog Canada , November 16, 2017

Site C jobs are often cited as a main reason to proceed with the $9 billion dam on B.C.’s Peace River. But how many jobs would Site C actually create? Are there really 2,375 people currently employed on the project, as widely reported this month?

DeSmog Canada dove into Site C jobs numbers. We found dubious claims, political spin, and far too much secrecy.

  • Number of direct construction jobs BC Hydro said Site C would create in March 1991: 2,182  [1]
  • Number of Site C direct construction jobs promised by Premier Gordon Campbell in April 2010: 7,650  [2]
  • Number of Site C direct construction jobs promised by Premier Christy Clark in December 2014: 10,000  [3]
  • Workforce at peak employment at the W.A.C. Bennett dam, B.C.’s largest dam, in the 1960s:  3,500  [4]
  • Workforce at peak employment at the Peace Canyon Dam in the 1970s: 1,100  [5]
  • Number of pages redacted from the B.C. Liberal government’s response to a 2016 Freedom of Information request asking for documents related to Site C’s job creation figures: 880  [6]
  • Time it took to receive the request: 11.5 months
  • Number of pages with redactions  in BC Hydro’s 692-page response to a 2017 Freedom of Information request asking for daily worker headcounts at Site C: 692[7]
  • Date BC Hydro said it did not have daily and weekly headcounts for Site C workers on the project site or staying at the workers’ lodge: October 12, 2017  [8]
  • Number of people BC Hydro’s Site C main website page says were employed on the project in September 2017: 2,375  [9]
  • Number of Full Time Employees (FTEs) among them: unknown
  • Minimum number of days a contract worker must be employed to be included in BC Hydro’s monthly Site C jobs tally: unknown
  • Approximate number of direct construction contract workers included in the September 2017 Site C workers tally: 1,164  [10]
  • Approximate number of other contract workers included in the September 2017 Site C workers tally: 750  [11]
  • Number of engineers and project team staff, including at BC Hydro’s head office in Vancouver, included in the September 2017 Site C workers tally: 461  [12]
  • Number of workers laid off at the Site C construction site in August 2017: 120  [13]
  • Number of workers laid off at the Site C construction site in September 2017: approximately 200  [14]
  • Number of workers laid off over Thanksgiving weekend, 2017: approximately 60[  15]
  • Number of workers laid off in early November 2017: approximately 30  [16]
  • Mentions of the layoffs on BC Hydro’s website: 0
  • Current number of Site C workers according to Liberal MLA Mike Bernier: 2,400  [17]
  • Cost of Site C in 2010: $6.6 billion
  • Cost of Site C in 2012: $7.9 billion
  • Cost of Site C in December 2014: $8.8 billion
  • Cost of Site C in November 2017: potentially more than $10 billion  [18]
  • Date BC Hydro filed a quarterly report with the B.C. Utilities Commission saying Site C was on budget and on track to meet its 2024 completion date: September 29, 2017  [19]
  • Date the BCUC released a report saying it is not persuaded Site C will be finished on time and that the project is over-budget with completion costs that could exceed $10 billion: November 1, 2017
  • Date the B.C. government will make a final decision about Site C: before December 31, 2017

Shocking New Investigation Links Berta Cáceres’s Assassination to Executives at Honduran Dam Company

Elisabeth Malkin interviewed by Juan González and Amy Goodman - Democracy Now, November 1, 2017

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: We begin today’s show with shocking new revelations about the assassination of renowned Honduran indigenous environmental leader Berta Cáceres. On Tuesday, in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, a team of international lawyers released a new report that shows how the plot to murder Cáceres was months in the making and went up to the highest levels of the company, whose hydroelectric dam project Cáceres and her indigenous Lenca community were protesting. The report’s release celebrated the effort to push back against the brazen impunity with which the murder was carried out.

PROTESTERS: Berta no se murió, Berta no se murió. ¡Justicia! ¡Justicia!

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: “¡Justicia! Berta!” “Justice for Berta!” they chanted, upon the report’s release.

In 1993, Berta Cáceres co-founded the National Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras, or COPINH. For years, the group faced death threats and repression as they stood up to mining and dam projects they said were destructive to their ancestral land. Then, on March 2nd, 2016, Cáceres was gunned down just before midnight in her hometown of La Esperanza. At the time of her death, she was organizing indigenous communities to resist the Agua Zarca Dam on the Gualcarque River, saying it threatened to contaminate her community’s water supply.

AMY GOODMAN: Now a team of five international lawyers have found evidence that the plot to kill Cáceres went up to the top of the Honduran energy company behind the dam, Desarrollos Energéticos, known as ”DESA.” The lawyers were selected by Cáceres’s daughter, Bertita Zúniga, and are independent of the Honduran government’s ongoing official investigation. They examined some 40,000 pages of text messages and say the conversations are proof that the orders to threaten COPINH and disrupt its protests came from DESA executives. The investigation also revealed DESA exercised control over security forces in the area, issuing directives and paying for police units’ room, board and equipment. In their new report, the lawyers write, quote, “The existing proof is conclusive regarding the participation of numerous state agents, high-ranking executives and employees of Desa in the planning, execution and cover-up of the assassination.”

For more, we go to Mexico City, where we’re joined by Elisabeth Malkin. She’s a reporter for The New York Times, has read the new report and details its findings in her article, “Who Ordered Killing of Honduran Activist? Evidence of Broad Plot Is Found.”

Reinventing the Wheel - Teaching Old Hydro New Tricks

By x356039 - January 22, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

When discussing green, renewable energy something of a holy trinity of sources consistently emerges in every discussion: solar, wind, and water. Of the three the one receiving the least press these days as a possibility are those options and opportunities based on water power. This is understandable when one considers the first image that springs to mind when discussing the subject: towering tons of cold concrete caging the roaring rivers of the world to work for the whims of the wealthy and powerful.

There is little debate in spite of the incredible potential hydroelectric dams offer that they come at enormous environmental costs. At internationalrivers.org the consequences of these projects is summed up with very strong, damning words. In spite of the extensive studies regularly conducted on new dam sites the changes caused by construction lead to a number of unintended and deadly consequences for the local ecosystem. The most obvious is, of course, the diversion of the river's flow but the impact of this happens on more levels than immediately meets the eye. The creation of massive artificial reservoirs that result from the construction of these dams destroys the previously existing green water habitats of the rivers making them quite hostile to the native species. This leads to massive influxes of invasive species like snails, algae, and non-native predatory fish ensuring further ecological havoc. Added to this is the blocking of new sediment deposits, resulting in increased erosion and the lowering of the water table denying plant life of the needed moisture to thrive.

The negatives of hydroelectric dams don't stop there. Adding further insult to injury is the displacement of indigenous populations that often results from these massive building projects. According to a report titled, “Social Impacts and Social Risks in Hydropower Programs” submitted to the 2004 United Nations Symposium on Hydropower and Sustainable Development the number of people displaced in China and India over the past 50 years by such projects is staggering. Of the estimated 45 million people in China displaced by new industrial projects during this period at least half were forced out of their homes due to the construction of new dams with a new project in the Yunnan province expected to add tens of thousands more to their number. In India the number is believed to be at least fifty million and this trend shows no signs of slowing down. A recent report by Survival International argues hundreds of thousands of people are being displaced as we speak by new projects in Brazil, Malaysia, Guyana, Ethiopia, and Peru. The Ethiopian Gibe III Dam, expected to be the highest dam on the continent when it is completed in 2020, has already forced over 200,000 people from their homes and it still has six years to go.

If this was all there was to the story of hydropower then there is little doubt that any sane environmentalist would stay as far away from this source as possible and consign it to the same category as nuclear, coal, and other dirty sources of energy. Thankfully there are a number of recent innovations, many inspired by pre-industrial uses of water power, that show hydropower has a few more tricks up its sleeve that make it an equally necessary component in any green energy future. These new developments harness the potential offered by flowing rivers, the roll of the tides, and crashing waves in non-invasive, minimally impactful ways. What makes these even better is, like wind and solar power, these inventions can be implemented on a far smaller, more evenly distributed scale ensuring that all forms of renewable power remain truly grassroots power.

The Fine Print I:

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