BC Hydro

National NewsMedia Council complaint

On April 8, Vancouver Sun published an opinion piece by BC Hydro Chair Brad Bennett titled B.C. Hydro, vision, planning and fortitude — getting the job done

The Vancouver Sun does not identify Bennett as a partisan campaigner in BC’s current general election. In the article, Bennett applauds Liberal power policies and repeats an outrageous lie that has been part of BC Hydro’s misinformation strategy for more than 12 years:

B.C. Hydro’s long-term electricity needs are forecast to increase by almost 40 per cent over the next 20 years… and our existing infrastructure is at or near capacity…

Capture
2006-to-2016
This is the text of a complaint I filed with editors of the Vancouver Sun and subsequently, the National NewsMedia Council:

Brad Bennett is a public servant, serving as Chair of public utility BC Hydro. He is also a partisan campaign official for the governing Liberal Party during the current election. He misstates several points but the most egregious is the claim that British Columbia’s “electricity needs are forecast to increase by almost 40 per cent over the next 20 years.”

BC Hydro has been overstating electricity demand growth throughout the last dozen years while sales to its residential, commercial and industrial customers in BC have not grown. The numbers charted above are taken from BC Hydro’s annual and quarterly reports.

Liespotting and Weighing BC Hydro’s balance of power

The Vancouver Sun knew or should have known that Bennett was misinforming readers.

The newspaper allowed this false information to be published but my central complaint is that it failed to identify Bennett as a Liberal campaigner in the current election.

Former premier’s son Brad Bennett re-enlists as Clark’s campaign advisor / Bennett will travel with B.C. Liberal Leader Christy Clark during the upcoming election campaign

I conveyed that information to Vancouver Sun editors with this additional comment:

I am not aware of the Vancouver Sun ever giving prominence to the fact that domestic consumption of electricity has not increased in 12 years. Despite this, BC Hydro added $19 billion in assets during the same time period and it is embarked on spending program that may add another $20 billion in assets in the next decade.

In addition, it can be shown that BC Hydro contracts with independent power producers, which last up to 2075, include inflation protected payments that are a multiple of market value. The losses incurred are already measured in billions. The Vancouver Sun has routinely failed to report the true state and prospects of BC Hydro and is guilty of shoddy or biased journalism.

Categories: BC Hydro, Postmedia, Uncategorized

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12 replies »

  1. Thank you Norm. These papers as well as unnamed TV stations are detrimental to our wellbeing and to democracy. It’s got to the point that I’m reading “Coffee” papers, watching cartoons. Having watched and reading what is being put out there is truly not good for people. So slanted.

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  2. Once again you did something I wish I’d done first myself. Well done. Of course you are absolutely correct. I’ve also been tracking The Sun’s coverage of the BC election and have numerous examples of flaws. JT

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  3. Thanks Norm.

    I’ll repeat the quote from Brad Bennett that was in the March edition of Business Examiner.

    He said:

    “Without adding Site C, we can’t add any more IPPs to our system or it becomes unbalanced and affects the rates we need to charge.”

    So Site C is needed to act as a buffer or storage for existing and new intermittent IPP power.

    Brad Bennett is saying publicly-owned BC Hydro needs to spend $9 billion on Site C in order to add more high-priced IPP power, or our rates will be affected.

    Is he actually saying we need Site C or our rates will go up?

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  4. For me personally, there has been no disappointment in public affairs that comes close to seeing Brad Bennett cheerfully preside at the betrayal of BC HYDRO, the immense legacy of his grandfather. Christy Clark may well have other reasons to keep Bennett at her side but surely the main one is to make it appear that her egregiously inappropriate snd false comment at Bill Bennett’s service that Site C was his policy, was true. But this critique is levelled at Bennett, whom I have never met – you are a disgrace to your grandfather, accepted by friend and foe alike as a great premier, for using your public position, a straight “pork” appointment, to ingratiate yourself with the classless premier who gave you your well paying sinecure and, with an adoring smile on your,face, betray the public which, thanks to your own grandfather, owned one of the world’s finest power companies. You prance the Province holding political hands with this woman who, genuflecting to the originator of the mischief, Gordon Campbell, in thrall to the Fraser Institute, gave it all away to Big Business. This was a pork barrel exercise that screams for a full investigation which, if we had a proper Attorney-General, would have happened long ago.You’re doubtless pleased with the enrichment of the rich by the ruination of our BC HYDRO, but the people of BC have been robbed and cheated and the name Bennett, so rightly honoured in our province, is evermore tarnished by the 3rd generation. You scarcely did it alone but are clearly a more than willing accessory.
    I am now a very old man who has tried to serve his beloved BC all his adult life. I find myself inconsolable at seeing BC HYDRO destroyed and presiding over its demise is the grandson of its founder and the son of my late friend, comrade and boss, Bill. I thank God that by reason of illness and death, he didn’t have to watch it happen.

    Rafe Mair, LLB., LL.D (hon), citizen

    Lions Bay

    Liked by 1 person

    • Rafe, your pain is palpable. If that monstrous insult to British Columbia and future generations is built, your words should be engraved on a plaque at the site.

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      • Lew – thank you for your sensitive note. If you’re in politics, especially as a commentator, you can’t be sentimental but sometimes, if you’re not careful and the blazing self-serving hypocrisy so blunt it’s very tough to take. I’m not speaking for any political party or persuasion – i know that many New Democrats join other British Columbians and look at the unholy nChristy/Brad Bennett alliance to destroy Site C and say “good God, has it come to this?

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  5. Thank you Norm. The “journalists” running and working the Vancouver Sun could learn a lot from you about how to practice the craft.

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  6. The comment I left at the Vancouver Sun’s webpage edition of Brad Bennett’s article:

    The person chairing the Board of Directors for a public utility with $32 billion in assets ought to be trustworthy, believable and working for citizens’ interest. Bennett continues to repeat the lie that demand for electricity within BC is rising steadily and substantially. Yet, according to its own annual and quarterly reports, Hydro’s sales to BC’s residential, commercial and industrial users in CY 2016 were 3% less than in CY 2005.

    Bennett is aware of domestic consumption and he should be aware that flat demand for power has been a fact elsewhere in North America because consumers are using less power per capita. He should also know that substantial power can be conserved additionally by encouraging modern motor technologies, new lighting equipment and other efficiencies in homes and businesses. Conservation is substantially cheaper than constructing new generating facilities and incurs no environmental damages.

    These are words of former provincial cabinet minister and broadcaster Rafe Mair, “I find myself inconsolable at seeing BC HYDRO destroyed and presiding over its demise is the grandson of its founder and the son of my late friend, comrade and boss, Bill.”

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  7. I too am disgusted by the deception in Bennett’s article. The Liberals’ Clean Energy Act states that Hydro must deal with 66% of load growth via conservation measures (DSM in Hydro’s jargon). The Liberals then stated that 78% of load growth would be handled via DSM. That means a growth of less than 10% over 20 years. But there’s Bennett threatening it will be 40% as a means of justifying Site C.

    The biggest deception is when he states: “Our overall debt will also start to decrease before the end of the 10-year rates plan.” When the plan was announced in 2013, Site C was not yet approved so it wasn’t included. Hydro’s debt was to go from $16.6 billion in F2015 to $17.3 billion in F2024. This included all the regulatory accounts.

    Now with Site C included Hydro says the debt will be $24.0 billion in F2024. But it actually peaks in F2022 at $24.3 billion and drops a few hundred million by F2024, allowing Bennett to make his statement. What he fails to mention is that the debt will grow by $7.4 billion over the 10 years of the plan – this despite a 45.6% rate increase over the same period.

    All of the above is in Hydro’s current Revenue Requirements Application (RRA) F2017 – F2019 before the BCUC and can be found on the BCUC website.

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