Guest post:Keeping the Site C mistake in focus

Rarely do I open up the blog to guest posts, but these comments from Roger Bryenton came my way via retired economist Erik Andersen as a normal matter of sharing information. Roger Bryenton is semi-retired former Professional Engineer, with experience in energy systems consulting, energy conservation and renewable energy work internationally. He is a partner in a restored small hydro plant in south-eastern BC, have worked with passive solar design, wind, geothermal and small hydro systems. He has been involved with electrical and thermal energy conservation( low energy homes and buildings, state of the art lighting technologies, community-based energy programs, remote-community systems, and energy commission research and hearings) and  has consulted on hydrology and fresh-water projects and ground-water recharge systems in North and South America.

 He is presently one of the directors of the BC Hydro Ratepayers,a group working toward keeping BC Hydro “for the people”, and is involved with a network of about 60 lower mainland organizations concerned that BC Hydro’s Site C project is an environmental and financial disaster and must not proceed. They are an amazing group of dedicated people caring deeply about leaving a “better planet” for future generations.

In his own words, we must keep the Site C mistake in focus. And this is why:

1. The overall cost of Site C is not accurately represented by BC Hydro.   They have been stating $8.8 Billion.That is at the “point of interconnection”, at Hudson’s Hope or Peace Canyon. BC Hydro are effectively “hiding” transmission and distribution costs by assigning them individual capital costs, under capital projects for “reinforcement and system upgrades” .  The “real costs” of getting the power to the lower mainland and Vancouver Island are in the order of an additional $2 billion, which rounds up the overall cost to $11 Billion.

***( Note by Laila: Research of mega dam projects around the world has shown that most large dam projects are not worth the costs,run over in construction time and costs and impact budgets for years beyond that. ) We are seeing this again in Newfoundland where Hydro execs there recently admitted they were wrong about the overdue and way over budget Muskrat Falls project, now saying it was wrong to build it. ***

2. The “numbers” for the cost of power from Site C, delivered to the lower mainland and Vancouver Island, locations of most of the power users, is $145/MWh, based on  Eoin Finn and Erik Andersen’s numbers we have developed.   This is in sharp contrast to the Minister’s email from April 1st,stating that the cost would be $64/MWh.   Either he is badly informed or he is lying.  The $145 is also much greater than the IPP’s have been criticized for selling to BCH, at $100/MWh.

3.  The impact of the $11 Billion, over 8 years of construction is to effectively add about $1 Billion per year, (which by the way is about $ 3 Million a day in spending).  That $! Billion is about a 25% increase to BC Hydro’s expense, and “need for revenue”.  If it were not put into a deferral account it would need an additional 25% rate increase to balance revenue with expenses.   This huge expense threatens the financial structure of BC  Hydro and the entire province, as it is $11 Billion that is critical to other infrastructure and capital spending, as well as operational for education, health and medical care, jobs creation, community services, environmental challenges, climate change, forestry and other resource maintenance, etc.

4.The Fisheries permit was issued, July 27th, with tan amended version issued August 25, and I believe I have sent you a copy of my “critique”  (attached – a :frightening” document).   The Minister has badly breached his duty to “protect, preserve, manage, and conserve the resource, and to ensure sustainability and ongoing productivity of the resource”.   By ignoring the scientific. engineering and other technical evidence that there is no need for electricity, he has breached his duty.  By ignoring the wide array of alternatives to conservation and other supply options for new electricity he has breached his duty.   By ignoring the published reports by hundreds of scientific writers, and scholars he has ignored the “public interest” which he is obliged to consider, and has breached his duty.

5.****  Most recently, on the CBC radio show, “The Current”, BC Hydro’s spokesperson David Conway stated that “This is about the Future.   This is about the load(need for electricity) in 20 to 40 years”.   More now than ever, it is clear that BC Hydro are proceeding with an unnecessary project.

***( Note by Laila: The timeline for needing the load from Site C is all over the map as Hydro and government flounder to continue to justify this projec, as noted in this letter to the editor : ) ***

6.  The fracking in the Peace area has created a seismic event of 4.6 since June 30th (I believe).  BC Hydro and the Oil and Gas Branch have issued a notice (I believe) to prevent fracking within 5 km of the existing dams.  (I have not yet researched the effective ground motion of a 4.6 at 2km depth.  Generally earthquakes occur between 10 km and 20 km underground and I believe this would result in different amplitude ground movement, for both the pressure and the shake waves.)    What are the structural implications for a massive dam, or for a reservoir with slopes already experiencing major movements – eg the 1973 (was it) slide?  What else could be triggered?    We have not been able to reach the UBC or other seismic or engineering specialists to obtain their opinions(s).

7.  I have analyzed the “real cost” of electricity, per kWh,  from BC Hydro.   A very modest user is paying 15 cents or more, while the average user pays less than 10 cents.  (see attached chart)


This the excerpt from the transcript to that interview from CBC’s The Current in which Dave Conway, the PR flack for Site C, talks about the load when the host asks him about the need:

RB: But is this energy even needed? Because B.C.’s Energy Minister Bill Bennett said that the need has not increased in eight years, in fact he said there was a surplus of clean energy in B.C. So how do you respond to that?


DAVE CONWAY: Well, this isn’t about today, this is about the future. So, this is about load that’s 20 to 40 years out. And the projects like this take a significant period of time to build. We’ve been at this since 2007, and we’ve just initiated construction. But it’s about load 20 to 40 years from now. And we’re building this based on StatsCan projection of a population growth of more than a million people in the next 20 years. And potential economic development coming from mining, forestry, and potentially natural gas and liquid natural gas development. So it’s not about today, it’s not about the surplus and capacity that’s here today, it’s about what the requirement is 20-40 years out. As was the case when our heritage assets like the W.A.C. Bennett Dam were built back in the 60s and the 70s.

As we welcome September, its increasingly urgent to bring as much attention to the history of this project in an effort to halt construction and force the government to send this to the BC Utilities Commission – BC Hydro wants to evict landowners out of their homes and off their land before Christmas.  They have been excavating all manner of archeological  artifacts off of the Boones land and have cleared trees for a flood that wont happen for at least 10 years if ever.

I continue to stand with growing numbers in support of those in the Peace River valley for many reasons – one is that I feel strongly that the province of British Columbia has been negligent in exempting Site C from independent review of the BC Utilities Commission, the regulatory agency.

Both the premier and duly elected Liberal MLA’s have failed in their inherent duty to act in the best interests of British Columbian taxpayers by refusing every request by not only voters, but also municipalities and organizations across BC to put the project before the BC Utilities Commission- the agency created by government to review these kinds of projects and make sure they are in the best interests of BC Hydro ratepayers.

In addition,by commencing preliminary site preparation despite outstanding lawsuits by local First Nations against Site C, the province has failed in its duty to consult and honour Treaty 8 and demonstrated a complete lack of regard for due process. There is a caravan leaving shortly to attend the court proceedings back east and I will have ongoing updates for you on that.

Until then, please share. Please inform. And please, help keep the last remaining untouched portion of the Peace, for generations to come.

22 thoughts on “Guest post:Keeping the Site C mistake in focus

  1. Justin will just take off his shirt as many times as is needed for this problem to die down. Then he’ll have his wife breastfeed in public–if his bare nipples don’t do the trick, his wife’s will. It’s nice to see he’ll lecture the Chinese on human rights (yeah, he won’t do business unless China gets nicer), but he loves the Saudis.


    1. The frustration with a new government that in many ways continues to govern like the old government is understandable.

      Your comments with respect to his wife are ridiculous, uncalled for an offensive to me and I’m sure, others.

      Please, self moderate your thoughts.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I’m afraid if the BCUC was allowed to rule on Site C they would capitulate. I believe they would be pressured by Clark to rubber stamp it. She would tell the BCUC too much has invested to walk away. I do hope that at some point it will be shut down and left as a testament to the corruption of this BC Liberal government…or simply call the area, “Christy’s legacy.”


    1. I disagree. I covered the BCUC hearings into the long overdue and major repairs needed on the WAC Bennett dam and was impressed by how much they required and questioned BC Hydro on repairs that were clearly,by anyones estimation, essential.

      There is no way, unless she fired everyone and stacked the board, that this dam project would pass. Its been denied already because there was no justification for it.The area is a geological minefield. There is no way this province should be taking on this debt load.


  3. It’s quite hard to comprehend that this project (along with the new bridge replacing the Masey Tunnel) are pretty much just vanity projects Crusty whipped up on a napkin to be her legacy (as if the highest debt in provincial history wasn’t enough of a legacy). How is a project like the site C dam even allowed to go forward without proper BCUC scrutiny? If the NDP ever gets elected, high on the priority list should be legislation preventing any mega-projects over a certain amount to be rubber stamped by the government without definitive justification after all appropriate scrutiny.


  4. Great job Laila… I totally agree that Site C still needs to be vetted by experts, not biased politicians that so far have just brazenly ‘bulldozed’ over all proper procedures. The government is purposely (and very recklessly) avoiding independent analysis in economic, environmental, legal, geologic, social… well virtually all aspects of this vanity mega mistake in the making. A mistake that will cost British Columbians with a mega legacy of problems.

    They ‘Damn the Torpedoes’ without question while what we really need to do is ‘Torpedo the Dam’ until we have more answers. Given the negative impacts and very questionable need for Site C it is no wonder we are seeing it raced to the point of no return without independent oversight. We need independent expert study and analysis.

    I am not for industry’s unbridled and virtually self regulated fracking of natural gas and do not believe in the overhyped LNG Sparkel pony promises of our Premier. However I am curious about what to my knowledge about some information that has not been revealed… It was recently reported that – to keep the Site C reservoir and dam earthquake safe there needs to be a no fracking zone. My question is how much natural gas and how much newly discovered tight oil (like found in the Bakken) would this no fracking impact zone lock out? Does anyone know or are they just not telling us. It would be ironic to have the Libs over sell a ‘green’ Site C when maybe there is a better solution. Perhaps we could get better value at lower cost and prevent the flooding of the valley. Possibly tap more energy with fewer negative impacts to the area? I ask this apples and oranges question just to show the ineptness of blindly pushing one agenda without due consideration for others. I am sure that the BCUC like they have in their review of repair work for the WACBennett would apply the required thoroughness.


  5. Thank you for giving us this info. You just keep doing ig it, keep it up! We need it as the MSM does not. It just lies on its side and records what the spin doctors say.


  6. These issues aside.
    Necessity for more power now and 30 years from now.
    Affordability for BC Hydro rate payers now and 30 years from now.
    Environmentally , is this the greenest power generation solution for now and 30 years from now.

    Lets ignore all that and talk ….safety.

    The Earthquake in Oklahoma YESTERDAY raises some very very serious questions about the viability of this Dam.

    The earthquake fracking “deniers” can (and will) poo poo any suggestions that the recent 5.6 quake in Oklahoma(and many other midwest areas with no historical evidence supporting natural earthquake incidents) arent caused by fracking and there isnt any scientific proof to say otherwise….
    OK. Whatever.
    But what if they’re wrong.
    This Dam is a potential disaster …literally, financially and environmentally……..
    And Christy Clark is wrapping her arms around this legacy project to get re-elected…..???.

    WILL the NDP stop construction if elected?

    Thats a very simple question for Mr Horgan.

    Somehow I doubt we’ll get a very simple answer.


  7. Wonder what we’ll say if a massive slide fills the reservoir, or worse, takes out the dam? Act of God or Revenge of the College dropout?
    Wonder what we’ll say when the financial impact breaks Hydro? Oh well, just like LNG, the bottom fell out of the (electrical) market.
    Wonder what we’ll say when there’s no longer food for our tables? Those damn Californians should have planned more effectively for a case of the droughts.
    Wonder what we’ll say when we finally get rid of the college dropout? HURRAY!


  8. Thanks Laila for this posting. Having a discussion now rather than 4/5 years ago is absurd but I am glad of it. It should have been evident early in the first decade of this century, a lot of new generation of electricity in BC would come from the then Premier’s program to create a private power industry in BC for BC needs. It was wrongly portrayed as “green” and our friends in California said so to our Premier who was expecting to sell into the US at “green ” energy premium prices.

    Without the yet to be built and commissioned Site C electricity, the BC Government and BC Hydro partially settled the legal action, stemming from the Enron fraud days, by giving electricity to California. About 5,300 GWhrs of electricity, in 2010, was the amount given over without shorting any BC customers. Selling surplus electricity happened in Fiscal 2016 when over 6,000 GWhrs were sold into the “out of BC” market to get some extra revenues. That amount is about 12% of the total annual BC demand and almost the same amount produced by the Independent Power Producers. I read no where of anyone being shorted electricity in that period.
    The revenue from the 2016 sale of electricity was about $CDN30 per MWhr. The most optimistic Site C cost estimate indicates electricity will cost $90 per MWhr. When independent folks turn their attention to the likely total costs of Site C, electricity estimates start at $125CDN per MWhr and range to $150 per MWhr.

    So we have a Johnathan Swift world where BC Hydro and the BC Government are fantasising that BC-only electricity needs are/will be 60/70,000 GWhrs when the reality has actual consumption static at 50,000 GWhrs since 2005. The reported evidence for the two unusual years indicates , without Site C , BC Hydro can find an extra 5,000 to plus 6,000 GWhrs to use other than selling to its BC-only customers. The optimistic generation value for Site C is about 4,500 GWhrs or substantially less than what BC Hydro has already demonstrated it has as an available surplus. BC Hydro customers, because of recent, sharply increasing electricity rates, are beginning to use alternative energies and adopt conservation strategies. This is normal customer behaviour when confronted with rising prices of a commodity like electricity. Yet the BC Hydro and the BC government act as true monopolists, thinking that price increases will not affect levels of consumption. They have behaved in this way for over a decade and there is little evidence any change is in the works.


  9. Unless you’re in the top 1 or 2% income earning bracket in BC you’re value is very low to the current Liberal government. Fact, Christy found 230 million dollars in the budget for an income tax break for the wealthy. How much was she able to find for the disabled? Eleven dollars per month.

    Buy her a twenty-five thousand dollar lunch and be impressed by the payback.


  10. Off topic but…
    While the caring public, all two dozen of us, are gnashing our teeth over Site C, the Liberals and their friends are hurriedly removing every accessible tree on the coast, north of Cape Caution.
    Another very disturbing sight.


  11. Ms. Clark is vindictive to a sad extreme. She aims to punish those who disagree with her. She’s not Premier material. She’s not radio talk show host material. May we wish her all the best in her endeavors on May 9th, 2017.


  12. Fifteen comments! I’m bewildered. Maybe you don’t sympathize with the natives. Maybe you’re not concerned about the Provincial debt. Maybe you don’t care about the environment. But surely you can’t be oblivious to the fact that some airhead, college dropout is capable of ramrodding this travesty ‘to the point of no return’. If she can do this, why can’t she provide more help to the education, the health system and other financial disasters. And I don’t mean shovelling off loads of money. I mean paying heed to the professionals (BCUC?) that know something about these ministries. I mean, clawing back the bus passes and then authorizing $10 -15 Billion on a vanity project that is neither desired or required!
    C’mon people! At least acknowledge you’re aware of the situation, even if you don’t consider it a problem.


  13. Seems like lot of you don’t think we will need Site C in the coming years. Clearly the population of BC is rising and while one can hope that conservation efforts are successful, it’s not something to be counted on. For example the warmer weather we have been experiencing (and are predicted to increase) results in more air conditioners which are a huge drain. Light bulbs switched to LCD or other efforts are blown away by running a/c for an extra month if you have it or installing new a/c if you don’t. However, I think the big thing not being discussed is what happens when the private power producers agreements with BC Hydro come to an end. Firstly, good riddance to the corrupt Liberal deals that were forced on us ratepayers…but wait what if we need the power? If BC Hydro doesn’t have relatively cheap power to replace it; guess what we’ll be extorted by the private power companies for prices that make today’s ridiculous ones they’re getting look like a bargain. Then the choice will be pay extortionate rates or build quick fixes which are gas powered generators or maybe taking Burrard Thermal out of mothballs.


    1. The population story of strong growth is a fiction the premier and liberals have promoted for a couple of decades. The statistical reality is that in the 80s and 90s BC did enjoy annual population growths of 2%. Around the beginning of the 21st century annual BC population growth slipped by 50% to about 1%. It is on the public record that the BC credit rating agency has been and is using 1%.
      Two drivers used for the BC Hydro so called forecasts of domestic demand were and are population growth rates and GDP grow rates. These values come to BC Hydro from the government so should be thought to be wishes rather than objective outlooks.
      The spending problem then happens when excessively optimistic projections are used as foundations for an outlook of demand.
      It is apparent that juveniles, given open ended credit cards, will indulge until someone takes away the cards.
      When the IPP contracts end there will likely be adequate BC Hydro self generation to meet the needs of people and businesses in BC. Firstly, people do react to higher electricity rates in various ways such as conservation and self-generation. Secondly, we know from the BC Hydro annual report of 2016 that there is at least 6,000 GWhrs surplus available above current domestic needs. No one knows how long the global slow down will continue but here it will be a good long while. The former Redfern mine shutdown/bankruptcy is but one event that will remove that mine’s demand for at least a decade, and so it goes in BC on all mining fronts right now.


  14. Site C is expensive and outdated technology. We already know that there exists hydro generation stations in BC that were designed to add their output. The hold up? IPP’s that are protected from competition….and when we require more than that geothermal is quite capable of filling the void. The plus? It requires a footprint much smaller than a hydro dam…costing a fraction of the price…taking a fraction of the time to construct. Another plus? Christy doesn’t have a corporate sponsor in that line of work…yet. No blood sucking…yet.


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