Energy is a Provincial file: sections 91 and 92 of the BNA Act of 1867 assign jurisdiction over everything between Federal and Provincial Governments.
Unfortunately, the reality of the jurisdictional responsibility for the Energy portfolio is not as clear cut; in fact, it’s a murky mud pool. In 1867 we did not have airports to control, nor did we have to consider cybersecurity. As Canada has progressed, we have created protocols for creating municipalities, hiring teachers, and printing currency. But for crucial issues like Energy and the Environment, we are stuck in a complicated labyrinth of cross-jurisdictional responsibilities.
Today the MLA from Nelson-Creston has jurisdictional responsibility for BC Energy. Somewhat. Energy has enormous overlap with Federal portfolios that control infrastructure, rail, industry, and natural resources.
Municipalities more often than not decide on energy needs and use. With new sources of energy emerging such as solar, wind, and biofuels, it’s reasonable to think cities will have more influence on this in the future.
Canada has solar capacity, wind, tidal, and geo. But I’m going to make this very clear. If people tell you we are ready to implement renewables today, on a scale that can replace non-renewables they are lying to you. We aren’t there yet, and we aren’t even close.
Storage is a major obstacle in creating viable and reliable renewable energy capacity. Solar works in BC nine months out of twelve. Wind works when it’s windy. Neither can provide continuous energy without interruption.
The turbine on Grouse Mountain is an iconic failure. A monument of metal and effort that has no function, other than to remind us that we are a very long way from a renewable energy utopia.
Solar remains stuck at 20% efficiency: the panels can only produce energy from 20% of the available insolation (solar power) and then within an energy coefficient (the hotter the panels get, the less efficient they become). Very few manufacturers track their supply chain satisfactorily: with solar that’s a big deal if you care about the globe’s environment.
That doesn’t mean that BC should not be striving to create viable and reliable renewable energy resources. Far from it. We can not continue to burn fossil fuels indefinitely or indiscriminately. As a society, when faced with troubling issues, like Ethics or questionable Government spending, we hire independent professionals who are leaders in their field to investigate, audit, and report.
BC has an Energy dilemma. There are such wildly opposing opinions that it has left us in a state of dithering delinquency on a vital portfolio. Energy is far too necessary to go with partisan politics and personal opinion. We require an Energy Commissioner or Auditor: a professional who can create a study done by non-partisan professionals to identify our energy needs, our future needs, and the options available to us. Fully costed and verified with the best of available data.
BC has set some extraordinarily ambitious EV targets without the slightest idea or plan on how to provide the energy for it. We expect buildings to be energy self-sufficient without fully understanding what that means or will take. Government is boring, practical and careful: nothing about either our current climate targets or energy plan is backed up with an infrastructure plan or an audited report on how to get there.
Failure to plan provides ironic failures like this EV charging station.
A perfect example of the failure to plan (the adage, then you plan to fail) is the underfunded EV initiative. When a plan isn’t fully fleshed out beforehand, we fail. Ridiculously the EV initiative was a victim of its own success. Equally, we have left municipalities scrambling to provide EV charging stations without providing them with funding but telling them to go to the Federal government (as my own City of Delta is doing). There’s a third EV issue that we aren’t addressing: lack of EV supply to BC.
Energy is a complicated portfolio with multilayered jurisdictional crossovers.
Speaking truth to power is a phrase we have come to use regularly and often. We need to speak truth to dreams too, especially ones that are used to choke our progress and our economic well-being because they claim it’s for our good.