B.C. doesn’t need ‘brown energy’

Dear editor,

Dear editor,

People in this province would probably be shocked if they knew how much electricity from power plants that burn coal is actually running through their homes and businesses.

We tend to think we’re living greener-than-average lives in this incredible province, but in truth we’ve been importing a lot of “brown energy” over the past decade from thermal-electric plants powered by coal in places like Alberta, Washington and elsewhere.

Yes, thermal-electric coal power is inexpensive and plentiful. But that’s only because the full cost of the carbon it emits into the atmosphere is not accounted for. The carbon and other pollutants from thermal-electric coal plants are basically disposed of for free into the atmosphere while the costs show up elsewhere; for example, in the cost borne by the taxpayers to fight the increasingly devastating forest fires we’ve seen in B.C. due to our changing climate.

The public in B.C. have resoundingly rejected coal as a source of power. They’ve also loudly rejected thermal-electric plants like Duke Point, Sumas 2 and Burrard Thermal that use natural gas as a source of power.

So why is B.C. relying so heavily on coal as a source of power instead of developing clean alternatives within our own borders? Given the clean alternatives we have in B.C., we should not need to bring “brown energy” in from outside our borders regardless of how inexpensive it appears to be on the surface.

There is a cost to everything, including carbon emissions. There’s also such a thing as false economy. And when most people in B.C. think they are getting clean power from hydroelectric sources, that’s what they should be getting.

It’s time for a reality check in this province because our electricity is not quite as green as we think it is.

Michael McBratney,

Port Moody

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