Site C

Pushing back on Site C disinformation

Brian Cochrane’s byline is on an article about Site C published March 28 by The Tyee. The author is described as:

…business manager of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 115, one of the unions whose members will be working on construction of BC Hydro’s Site C dam.

I was appalled by misinformation Cochrane presented — and by the publication’s fact-checking failure — and left a lengthy comment. My contribution drew approval from a some readers and a response by one diligent Site C proponent, one of 15 he left on Cochrane’s article.

However, after a few hours, The Tyee removed my comment. Following my inquiry, it was restored a day later. The online magazine advised:

There may have been a few people who didn’t like your comment who said it was spam, which is why it vanished.

In case it vanishes again, I repeat my response to Cochrane’s Tyee article:

I wonder if Brian Cochrane would still favour the idea if there was balance between the people who paid for Site C and the ones who benefited from it. That would let BC Hydro ratepayers off the hook and allow Mr. Cochrane and his friends to pay for the project.

His suggestion reminds me of the math dunce who says 2+2=9 and wants equal respect to those who believe 2+2=4.

By the way Brian, you forgot to mention that Mr. Quail – quoted at the top – has been paid by a very special interest, the Allied Hydro Council, which lobbies for its financial supporters, who happen to be financial beneficiaries of Site C construction.

Power sufficient for 450,000 homes eh? If only we had 450,000 homes that were without electricity. Facts show that demand by BC consumers – BC Hydro’s residential, commercial and industrial customers – has been flat since 2005. In addition, as the NDP knew before they were elected, conservation and small-scale on-site alternative generation offer huge opportunities to reduce demand for grid power.

In fact, BC Hydro’s rapidly rising rates will push more consumers to conserve electricity and utilize self generation methods.

For a few hundred million, BC Hydro could add about half of Site C capacity at Revelstoke. Additionally, even more capacity than Site C could be added by taking back the Canadian Entitlement of downstream power (1,320 MW) generated on the Columbia. We’re selling that now to Americans for 2.6¢/KWh, which is 20% to 25% of what Site C power will cost.

Alberta accepted a bid recently for wind power priced at 3.7¢/KWh and price trends for wind, solar as well, have been on a sharp downward trend, whereas the cost of Site C has been on a sharp upward trend.

Cochrane buys the wholly unreliable claim that shutting down Site C would cost $4 billion and return nothing. Once again, this is an interested party attaching absolutely no value to the interests of First Nations or to the 50 miles of fertile valley floor that will be flooded. That is land that could be highly productive since it contains some of BC’s best farmland. It has not been highly developed because a certain utility has inhibited higher use.

Instead of a GHG producing reservoir in the Peace River valley, we could be producing sufficient food to feed a million people.

Calling the sunk cost argument ludicrous is contrary to teachings in every business management school in existence. If Cochrane had purchased a meal and been served rotten food, would he eat it because he had invested hard cash in the food and would experience a loss if it were wasted?

The garbage arguments about alternative energy not fitting BC’s existing structure, which is almost entirely hydro, would be a great surprise to utilities throughout the world that are rushing to adapt to wind and solar and even including battery storage. Colorado recently accepted a bid for wind with batteries for 2.1¢/KWh. Taking out subsidies, that still leaves the cost at about 1/3 of Site C.

Site C proponents routinely ignore the likelihood of future advances in energy technology. They are like the old-time bookkeepers who believed quill pens and paper based journals were the only ways to keep records. Or like the ones of 40 years ago who thought magnetic-striped ledger card machines were the gold standard for accounting systems and said computers will never be used in most businesses.

Instead of blaming wind power for Germany’s increased GHG emissions, Cochrane should have blamed the country’s steadily growing economy. In fact, renewables are at the centre of Germany’s plans for dealing with GHGs. Claiming Germany’s experience boosts Site C is idiotic.

The claim that Site C will provide 100 years of power is a careless one. Construction on unstable lands, with obvious instability on the slopes of the planned reservoir, make that a careless and ludicrous wager.

MIT, a respected institution says the average life expectancy of a dam is 50 years. Indisputably, some elements of a hydro generating facility have a shorter life span.

In summary, the very self-interested Mr. Cochrane has not convinced me that 2+2=9.

Source:   Site C Dam: Google map of area to be flooded, Thievery Corp.

This was a comment at the Tyee by Damien Gillis:

BC already has plenty of baseload/firm power, through its myriad existing dams, in order to anchor additional intermittent wind or solar power; so the author’s reference of Germany and coal power is a totally unfair comparison. There’s also geothermal, which is in itself firm power.

This is just one among many erroneous arguments within this garbage column. I’ll take Andrew Nikiforuk’s carefully researched, well-articulated Site C critiques over this type of half-baked defense any day of the week and twice on Sundays.

No wonder the Tyee hasn’t carried much commentary from the pro-Site C lobby – if this is the best they can muster, they’re better off not exposing their weak-ass arguments to The Tyee’s savvy readers.

Categories: Site C, The Tyee

12 replies »

  1. Spam often defined as “unsolicited or undesirable electronic messages.” Tyee solicits comments so your comment obviously fell into the latter category.

    I think you’re right to raise Tyee’s “fact-checking failure.” I wonder how many other articles they publish just to please institutional funders like those in the labour movement.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Hello Norm, thank you for sending along a copy of your reply addressing Mr Cochrane’s opinion piece. For some reason I’m unable to get back into the comment section of that editorial. There certainly are many false prophets out there between MSM, politicians and those with skin in the game. They need a full time chaperone..

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I think the Tyee acted correctly in publishing Cochrane’s article. There were not many comments that supported his ill conceived and unsupported arguments which indicated that there weren’t many who were fooled by his diatribe. On the other hand, it gave the opportunity for many to vent their reasons for opposing the continued dumping of resources into this ill-fated venture. The Tyee provided a platform for opposing points of view, and with the exception of their ill thought out reason (“..a few people that didn’t like your comment…” – very few, I would hazard) for deleting Norm’s responsible and succinct comment, was the proper thing to do.

    There were so many dissenting comments that I wonder if all the reasons for cancelling the project weren’t covered. I know if I had a choice between one the 450,000 homes provided with electricity and one of the one million people being fed, I would choose food over electricity.

    I don’t believe Mr. Cochrane managed to convince many of his point of view. He is/was entitled to his own opinions, but not his own set of ‘facts’.


  4. Mr. Cochrane never mentioned Muskrat Falls or Keeyask Hydro electric projects. Both are unmitigated financial disasters and both were politically driven and ignored economics, just like Site C. Both were in trouble before the BC Liberals pushed through Site C without any review. It is folly of the greatest order to let it continue.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you for this!

    It is time that the purveyors of Site C nonsense are shown for what they are; fiction writers.

    Like our big transit projects, they are designed to move money and not people.

    When I try add some fact into the argument, I am ridiculed and now threatened (politely now) from the Premier’s Office and the TransLink CEO’s office, that bad things will happen if I continue to pointedly how daft our transit planning is.

    Site C is a dinosaur, in an age of more flexible and cheaper power alternatives. and as all dinosaurs, site C will find its own very expensive tar pit to expire in.

    We now live in an age where lies have become truth and the truth has become a criminal activity.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Today’s opinion from the BC LNG fracking industry:

    “The use of B.C.’s renewable electricity (BC Hydro) for upstream (natural) gas-processing facilities and anticipated technology advancement in drilling, completion and gas processing will (supposedly) contribute to further reductions in emissions from natural-gas production.”

    Hence the ‘need’ for BC Hydro to spend over $10 billion for Site C, flooding agricultural land.

    Our Hydro rates have grown enormously in the past 10 years. Now, because of Site C, rates will rise even faster.


  7. One wonders if the obscene rate hikes in Ontario to avoid the looming bankruptcy of Ontario’s Electricity producer will have any lessons for BC Hydro?

    Would the last employee at BC Hydro please turn out the lights?


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