Sometimes, one woman can only take so much. And when I saw yet another headline last night blaring:
“BC Hydro says halting Site C would cost $500 million”
I really and truly, had enough.
“A stop-work order for the Site C dam will cause “extreme prejudice” to BC Hydro at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars and a one-year delay in the construction schedule, the utility’s lawyer says.
Mark Andrews told a B.C. Supreme Court judge that critical milestones will not be met if an injunction is granted to a pair of First Nations.
“This injunction is going to drive a truck into the schedule of the project at this stage in particular,” Andrews said Wednesday.
The West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations are challenging the nearly $9-billion project by arguing they were not properly consulted before permits were granted for Site C, the third dam on the Peace River.
The Treaty 8 Tribal Alliance members say they will suffer “irreparable harm” if BC Hydro is allowed to start clearing thousands of hectares of old-growth forest.
They’ve asked a judge to block work authorized by specific permits.”
“The project is in the public interest because the dam’s power will flow to British Columbians, he said.
BC Hydro has said the dam is expected increase its energy supply by eight per cent, enough to generate electricity for about 450,000 homes annually.”
This kind of stuff makes my blood boil. Let me tell you why.
Site C is a project that has been on the books for longer than many British Columbians will remember. Over the years ,the reasons for it have changed a few times in order to try and justify the project. Then Premier Clark picked it up and said LNG plants will need the energy, so we must build Site C.
However when it was revealed that LNG plants could burn their own gas to generate power – Clark admitted to Bloomberg Site C was not needed to power up those LNG plants we still don’t have – the reason for building it changed again. Now, Clark said, British Columbians will need that clean energy! We must build Site C!
It’s also been said we could sell the energy elsewhere… but read on.
What it comes down to, is that we still don’t need the electricity from that project,and there are still very serious questions about the rationale and the costs associated with it.
Site C was already turned down once by the BC Utilities Commission in the eighties because it simply wasn’t needed.
Not surprisingly, last year the federal-provincial joint review panel recommended that the B.C. government send the project to the B.C. Utilities Commission for review on the economics and cost of the project. That is what the BC Utilities Commission exists for. It reviews all the evidence provided and determines if it is accurate and if the benefits outweigh the negatives.
But no, the province did not, and will not send the project to the BC Utilities Commission and actually exempted it when they passed the Clean Energy Act in 2010. The province knows full well that there stands a very strong likelihood the BC Utilities Commission would say the project still isn’t needed at this point in time, or that the costs associated with it outweigh any rationale for building it.
The BC Utilities Commission might also ask the province why it still hasn’t investigated alternatives to the dam as was recommended the last time this project went before them.
The provincial government has ignored not only the federal-provincial review panel, but politicians,industry experts and the people whose homes and land will be flooded if the project proceeds.
Each of you should be asking yourselves why this project is being pushed through without this review being done.
This is why the BC Utilities Commission exists!! There is so much concern over this project that now the BC Auditor General will be conducting a review “to investigate “whether BC Hydro’s recommendation and government’s decision to build Site C was supported by sufficient information and analysis to demonstrate that it would meet government’s economic, social and environmental goals.”
In an exclusive interview earlier this year, the chair of the review panel had this to say:
“In his first interview on the Site C dam, the chair of the federal-provincial panel appointed to review Canada’s largest current infrastructure project said the B.C.government was unwise to green-light the project without a review by the B.C.Utilities Commission and would have been better off to delay the decision by a few years.
“There’s a whole bunch of unanswered questions, some of which would be markedly advanced by waiting three or four years,” Harry Swain told DeSmog Canada. “And you’d still be within the period of time, even by Hydro’s bullish forecasts, when you’re going to need the juice.”
“You shouldn’t take decisions before you need to,” Swain said. “That means you’ll have much more information when you finally have to take a decision. Building electricity facilities in advance of need only costs money.”
The panel’s report predicted that in the first four years of production, the Site C dam would lose at least $800 million because BC Hydro would generate more power than the province needs at a cost of $100 per megawatt hour — when the market price for that power is currently $30 per megawatt hour.
“Wisdom would have been waiting for two, three, four years to see whether the projections they were making had any basis in fact,” Swain said. “And they would have been able to make a better-informed decision and not necessarily a more expensive one.”
In its report, the panel wrote that it couldn’t conclude that the power from Site C was needed on the schedule presented, adding: “Justification must rest on an unambiguous need for the power and analyses showing its financial costs being sufficiently attractive as to make tolerable the bearing of substantial environmental, social and other costs.”
Some of the questions that still need to be answered, according to Swain, include the real cost and availability of alternatives, how B.C. should use its Columbia River rights, how British Columbians will react to increased electricity prices (which could decrease demand) and how the province’s liquefied natural gas industry will develop.”
That interview is a must read and you can read part 1 here: http://www.desmog.ca/2015/03/10/exclusive-b-c-government-should-have-deferred-site-c-dam-decision-chair-joint-review-panel
Homes are going to be flooded,some that have been farmed and owned by three generations of the same family.They are harvesting musk melons right now – this is fertile land, ready for crops and in this day and age the government should be promoting it, not trying to flood it.
The valley and river is also used by many including First Nations, for hunting and fishing. It has archaeological significance. Even the BC government Parks has designated the Peace River as one of its Heritage Rivers,extensively sharing how unique and diverse the river below the other two dams really is: http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/heritage_rivers_program/bc_rivers/peace_river.html
It really matters that when the province or a crown corporation undertakes any big project, they ensure every check and balance is done and that has not been the case with Site C. And while this time it is Site C being rammed through, next time it might be a project that impacts your life more directly.
So, when I see news reports with BC Hydro warning that costs will increase by $500 million if work is halted, I see a scare tactic designed to sway the public into pressing for this project to move ahead.
What should be said is that not building it will save taxpayers far more than $8.5 billion dollar cost of construction… but also the potential yearly loss of $800 million because the cost to produce the energy is more than current rates. Our hydro bills would likely go up.
It’s just wrong on so many levels. I urge everyone to write the premier and every Liberal MLA and demand this project be put before the BC Utilities Commission for the full review it should have had in the first place.