Green energy could pay off B.C.’s debt
Last Monday (March 8th), we released a new research report exploring B.C.’s immense potential for generating renewable green energy and the substantial revenue that could be generated for the people of B.C. through an effective export policy.
The response has been great and the report is generating the kind of vigorous discussion we hoped it would. If you haven’t yet seen the report it’s available on our B.C. Citizens for Green Energy website (www.greenenergybc.ca) and it’s entititled: A Triple Legacy for Future Generations: British Columbia’s Potential as a Renewable Green Energy Powerhouse.
The report shows that revenues in the range of $4.3 Billion per year could potentially be realized by the people of British Columbia if we were to unlock the province’s renewable green energy resources—potentially enough revenue to wipe out the province’s debt and then eventually replace the revenue now raised through the provincial sales tax (PST).
Quebec and Manitoba are already generating considerable revenue for the people of their provinces by exporting renewable energy to neighbouring provinces and states—and they’re helping reduce dependence on coal-fired and gas-fired electricity in these jurisdictions.
BC Hydro also trades a considerable amount of clean energy with neighbouring jurisdictions through its profitable Powerex division, and this benefits BC Hydro ratepayers by keeping BC Hydro’s electricity rates low for British Columbians. But over the past decade, BC Hydro has gone from being a net exporter of clean, renewable electricity to being a net importer of non-renewable, typically coal-fired electricity from places like Alberta.
As a net importer of electricity we’re essentially exporting jobs, adding to greenhouse gas emissions, and losing significant revenues that could be coming to B.C. through development of our green energy potential. We have the potential to be North America’s pre-eminent green energy powerhouse and we should be exporting green energy not importing dirty energy.
The recent Throne Speech showed that the province is moving in the right direction on green energy, but we’re encouraging them to go even further and faster than they have in unlocking B.C.’s renewable green energy potential so that the people of B.C. can enjoy the financial, economic and environmental benefits—including the potential to pay down and even eliminate the province’s debt.
And why would we not pursue the export opportunities available to us? Why would the people of B.C. not support doing so given the amazing triple legacy that B.C.’s green energy resources could provide to future generations? If B.C. was debt-free like Alberta, the $2.2 billion we currently spend every year servicing our provincial debt could be spent instead on vital services like health care and education—$2.2 billion is enough to build six 300 bed hospitals like the new Abbotsford Regional Hospital and Cancer Centre.
As a footnote: According to last Tuesday’s provincial budget, the provincial debt is forecast to rise to nearly $48 billion in 2010/11 with the taxpayer-supported portion of the provinces’ debt estimated to increase to nearly $34 billion. By 2012/13, the province’s total debt is expected to rise to nearly $56 billion.