Thursday, January 26, 2012

Bear Mountain Wind

There is, actually, a wind farm in BC. It's the only one. It was set up by a co-operative based in Dawson Creek, and is run by AltaGas. Here's an interesting history.

It feeds into the grid, so you if you live near Dawson Creek you're probably getting some of your electrons from it. You can buy shares in the co-op - investment shares as well as regular ones.

I found out about it through Bullfrog Power, which is an energy-reselling company that specializes in green energy. Their idea is that anyone across Canada can sign up and "buy green energy", even if they are not in a jurisdiction where, for instance, there are windmills. This is an interesting idea, but I am not sure how it's supposed to work. Surely Bear Mountain is selling all of it's energy through its BC Hydro contracts, no? Then how can they also sell green power through Bullfrog? Well, maybe Bear Mountain does have some spare capacity?
I'm thinking maybe Bear Mountain makes extra money through Bullfrog, who are basically fundraising across Canada from folks who want to support "green" energy. There's an audit trail available on Bullfrog's website, so presumably there is evidence that the electrons aren't being "double sold". Any money you give to the frog does end up with the bear, and results in more electrons into a Canadian grid.
In any case, if you click on the links you can see that going through Bullfrog will cost you $0.02 per kWh extra for wind, more than for regular BC Hydro power. While this doesn't sound like much, it actutally represents a 25% cost increase. This is of course far better than solar PV, but still not competitive with our current rates. I'm not sure that I'll be purchasing from Bullfrog anytime soon; I mean, Bear Mountain already provides BC with energy at standard BCHydro prices...

Ah, the wonderful world of decentralized energy. Suddenly there's room for middlemen, packagers, and marketing. And, of course, consumer choice.

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