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.