A new water turbine is installed at Mica dam north of Revelstoke. The addition of the fifth and sixth turbines

Weather windfall for U.S. power exports

Warm winter left record water levels in B.C.'s Peace and Columbia River reservoirs, with water released to alleviate U.S. drought

A warm winter and a dry spring and summer combined to produce a big jump in BC Hydro power exports this year.

Electricity exports to the U.S. jumped by 73 per cent in the first eight months of 2015 compared to the same period last year, according to export data from Statistics Canada.

BC Hydro says the warmer winter decreased residential customer demand for electricity in B.C., leaving enough water in the Columbia and Peace River reservoirs that their combined volume reached record highs by the end of March 2015. That allowed for more generation from Mica dam on the Columbia River, which recently had a fifth and sixth turbine added to bring it up to maximum design capacity.

“These exports also supported the management of the obligations under the Columbia River Treaty, which provide for increased releases of water from the Canadian Columbia basin when the U.S. basin finds itself in severe drought conditions, as it did in the spring and summer of 2015,” said BC Hydro spokesperson Simi Heer. “Ultimately, the increased release meant additional generation at Mica, which resulted in more energy available for export.”

The Columbia River Treaty was signed by Canada and the U.S. in 1964, and its flood control mandate is set to expire in 2024. Energy Minister Bill Bennett has argued that the treaty should be renewed with an increased annual payment from the U.S., to reflect the value of controlling the river on the Canadian side for flood control and irrigation for agriculture in Washington state.

The increase in electricity sales was a bright spot for B.C. exports, the value of which fell 22.2 per cent from January to August, due mainly to falling natural gas prices.

Electricity prices also fell during that period, so the 73 per cent increase in exports resulted in only a 32.2 per cent increase in value. Decreases in gas and electricity prices are related to greatly increased shale gas production in the U.S., which is used for power production as well as heating fuel.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Vehicle ends up upside-down in creek along Happy Valley Road

One motorist in care of emergency services

Greater Victoria writer releases first novel inspired by U.S. school shootings

Dear Mr. President tells thought provoking story of victims left behind

Saanich mayor joins fight to protect local wildlife from rat poisoning after second owl dies

Mayor Fred Haynes to meet with provincial, federal pest control industry representatives

Sidney fire responds to fewer but more severe calls during pandemic

Rise in severity linked to changes in routine during COVID-19 pandemic

Saanich police see spike in excessive speeding compared to previous years

Nearly 100 excessive speeders caught since January 2020

QUIZ: Test your knowledge of the world of summer sports

In a typical year, there are plenty of summer sporting events and tournaments held across Canada

Protesters rally against anti-black, Indigenous racism in Toronto

Police estimated the crowd to be between 3,500 and 4,000 and said there was no violence

Feds earmark $1.5M to support recovery of B.C., Indigenous tourism

B.C. money will be split between Vancouver Island and Indigenous tourism

‘We’re sick of it’: Anger over police killings shatters U.S.

Tens of thousands marched to protest the death of George Floyd

Surrey mayor’s party under fire for ‘sickening’ tweet accusing northern B.C. RCMP of murder

Mayor Doug McCallum says tweet, Facebook post ‘sent out by unauthorized person’

Father’s Day Walk Run for prostate cancer will be virtual event this year throughout B.C.

The annual fundraiser for Prostate Cancer Foundation BC has brought in $2.5 million since 1999

Dr. Bonnie Henry announces official ban on overnight kids’ camps this summer

New ban comes after talking with other provincial health officials across the country, Henry says

Senior man in hospital after unprovoked wolf attack near Prince Rupert

Conservation officers are on site looking for the wolf

VIDEO: NASA astronauts blast off into space on SpaceX rocket

Marks NASA’s first human spaceflight launched from U.S. soil in nearly a decade

Most Read