BC Hydro

Shilling for dollars

Updated from June 2016.

automated-robot-journalis-011In an earlier article, I made reference to BC Legislative Press Gallery members producing commissioned articles. These are public relations pieces intended to serve particular needs of government or entities doing business with government. It is the kind of output that will ultimately be replaced by automated journalism.

Mike Smyth’s June 2016 column in The Province provides an example

It was an exciting news story that jumped off front pages less than three years ago: a massive new wind farm to be built on Vancouver Island that would generate enough electricity to power 75,000 homes.

The $750-million project was great news for taxpayers because it wouldn’t cost the public a penny…

Wow, what a deal. Wouldn’t cost the public a penny… unless they are residents of British Columbia who consume electricity or who are taxpayers guaranteeing profitable operations of private power projects through inflation-protected, non-market purchase contracts that last as long as sixty years.

Smyth, like some of his colleagues, was pumping the tires of private power producers. He moaned when BC Liberals didn’t offer one company guaranteed profits.

“Because we haven’t been able to find a customer, we have placed the project on hold,” confirmed TimberWest spokeswoman Monica Bailey.

…It comes at a time when wind-turbine technology has advanced rapidly, cutting the cost to produce wind power.

…Advances in turbine technology have cut the cost to generate wind power to about five cents per kilowatt-hour — less than half of the energy-unit cost of the Site C dam…

Yes, Michael, now explain that most start-up businesses without customers don’t whine to media or expect the public to bail them out. Explain also that technological change is only one of the reasons why BC Hydro should not be signing above-market-price contracts, with price escalators, for 25, 35, even 60 years.

Oh, you can’t? The private power producers prefer that subject is not raised?

By the way, Michael, if wind power now costs $0.05 per kilowatt-hour, you might want to ask BC Hydro why it was once advertising willingness to pay private producers up to $6.05 per KWh ($605,000 per GWh).

But Jessica McDonald, the president of B.C. Hydro, denies the province is anti-wind.

“We will buy more wind power when we have more demand,” McDonald said.

Demand, Michael, that refers to the amount of power used within British Columbia. You could tell your readers domestic demand has remained flat in the past decade, partly because of technological change. Of course, you might also explain that despite no demand growth, BC Hydro paid $870 million more to independent power producers in 2017 than in 2005, with IPP purchases in the second half of 2017 priced at 205% of the unit average in the same period of 2005.

Smyth is proxy for Independent Power Producers Association of BC, or Clean Energy BC, as they now prefer. The organization wants to supply BC Hydro’s power needs and that requires reducing, not increasing, the public utility’s output. However, BC Hydro is addicted to spending so, while adding contracts for private power, it spent billions adding 16% to its internal generating capacity.

Were Smyth not shilling, he could be a champion of reducing power consumption through increased energy efficiency. However, there are few in BC pushing conservation as a serious alternative to generating more power, whether by hydro, wind, solar, tidal, geothermal or any other technology.

BC Hydro sales and IPP purchases 450

Check out my April 2016 examination of Vaughn Palmer’s work on BC Hydro‘s financial condition. Some might expect it to be objective journalism.

It is not.

10 replies »

  1. It’s damned near impossible to be civil! Read more of Farrell, read Erik Andersen, read Marc Eliasen, read the figures starting in 2002 when the Campbell/Clark wrecking crew took over – it’s not complicated and the numbers easy to comprehenf. Only they and BCH seem unable to understand how to use renewables. They are so wired to hydro power they’re like the carpenter whose only tool is a hammer – everything looks like a nail! THE reason can be found with Campbell taking away from BCH the right to make more power except Site C giving the exclusive right to private power companies, “Mom & Pop” operations like General Electric, to legally rob BCH and the public blind as they destroy our rivers. Then the boondoggle of all time, Site C!

    Now, 14 years later, the Sun & the Province haven’t noticed any of this? Nor has The National Post? Nor Canada’s National Newspaper, the Globe & Mail? As the Duke of Wellingtion said to the man who accosted him with “Mr Robinson, I believe”, “I you believe that, you’ll believe anything!”

    I have the written evidence of an involved deal between Postmedia (Sun, Province, National Post) and Oil Industry to promote each other. Christy loves fossil fuels and so does our workd class chamelion, Justin, the Great.

    Now, tell me – who runs this country and province? If you believe the “people” let me refer you to the Iron Duke.

    I believe that whoever is making piles of money selling poison at home and abroad with favourable laws whenever needed, accompanied with public money, passed by governments who fly all over the world selling for them, just could be the place to start looking even though Vaughn Palmer, Mike Smyth, Jeffrey Simpson, Andrew Coyne & Co somehow missed this story.

    I certainly don’t want to jump to unfair conclusions but the folks at the pub, applying the smell test, might just conclude that there’s something fishy about all this or perhaps just that, in yet another amazing Canadian coincidence, all of them are as dumb as a sackful of hammers, have been so for 14 years and still don’t understand.


    • not only are the likes of Palmer, Smyth, Shaw et al commissioned to shill for hydro IPP’s (fact)…..so are our publically paid regulators (publically paid that is, until they get positions of importance in the private sector industry that they have just finished lobbying for on our dime)….the smell test of more odious goings on gets even harder to pass ….first we pay with our tax dollars to get private profit ruin of rivers approved, then we pay with our after tax dollars for increased Hydro rates to maintain that private ruin of river profit….it would seem to me the only ones that are not alarmed are either not aware (see dumb as sack-full of hammers comment above)….or are very, very aware (see something fishy about all this comment above)


      • Listen folks, we all have to ask how the hell the ruination of BC Hydro as chronicled by Norm, Erik and others so clearly, with all the figures and the pay-offs to corporate pals with generous political donations back to the Liberals, still be such a well kept secret? Is this not a huge scandal! Moreover, Site C is part of it?

        At the minimum, join me in cancelling your subscriptions. There’s bugger-all you’re going to miss except the comics and they’re all on two pages of internet. I noticed that first thing in the morning I would scam the BBC, CNN, CBC in about 1/2 an hourthen get the papers and scan them in a couple of minutes and wonder why I was spending money to support the fossil fuel industry and the Christy Clark bunch. I’m now better informed, better tempered, and much more up on the world of comics. The tiny bit of BC news in the Globe & Mail more than makes up for the local rags. Moreover, I’m fighting the proposed Woodfibre LNG plant while the Vancouver Province is a formal partner with Resource Works, the industry spinoff that is shilling full time for WFLNG. Why would I give a nickel to my enemy? In buying any Postmedia paper, including, of course, the National Post, you’re subsidizing their formal partners, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, a deal you might conclude is why the newspapers are always so kind to the fossil industry which so faithfully supports Christy who returns the favour generously.

        We all must live with evil people in our society but we sure as hell don’t have to help finance the bastards.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Already done – the only time I read any of the BC liberal press circus is when Norm posts excerpts. Life is so much better when you turn the spin doctors off. I am running into lots of folks saying the same. The circus members speak with slippery tongues and there is no turning back for them. Don,t even click on their paid advertisements or websites, no ad money for them. I consider what they are doing as treason and it pisses me off.


  2. To top it off, The Province’s Facebook comments have been broken since about May 7. The symbol is there — but you can’t make a comment.

    When I complained, I was told they are working on it and their planned new format is forthcoming. Without the ability to give feedback and see what others are commenting, I rarely bother with The Province now.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. OK, I’ll trot this one out again as it seems appropriate.

    We know—you know in this room—how to transform this world. We know what to do. We know how to provide meaningful, dignified living wage jobs for all who seek them, how to feed, clothe, and house every person on Earth. What we don’t know, admittedly, is how to remove those in power whose ignorance of biology is matched only by their indifference.
    —Paul Hawken

    It reflects recent comments by a group of scientists that they might know how to deal with Climate Disruption but will never be able to do so because they don’t first know how to fix the greed, self-interest and ignorance of the political and mercantile class. The press will, unfortunately, only be apologizing for their trespasses from their more ethereal post-apocalypse forms.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sometimes with our ability, and the whole range of the english language, we are unable to explain the true depth of absurdness or insanity. We are at a loss. Logic seems elusive, common sense out of grasp.
    Everyone can see the wrong in this, everyone yet?
    For Jessica McDonald to make the Statement ” We will more wind power when we have more demand” show a total misunderstanding and conflict with their current practices of forced purchase of IPP power that isn’t needed, or spending billions on site C when it isn’t needed now or in the foreseeable future.
    Such outright disregard of taxpayer dollars should be considered scandalous if not criminal.


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