BC Hydro

Why we’re voting

It is easy to conclude why Premier John Horgan ignored BC’s established pattern of general elections every four years. The BC NDP was riding high in the polls but a threat to that popularity was looming. A threat not known to the general public.

It was that damn dam, Site C.

Sarah Cox and The Narwhal ascertained what a few of us surmised. The Horgan government has known for some time that BC Hydro’s Peace River megaproject was in trouble. It is sited on unstable ground and that may not be fixable.

BC NDP has been hiding the facts for some considerable time.

Sarah Cox, a diligent and admirable journalist, writes:

…Site C dam faces unknown cost overruns, schedule delays and such profound geotechnical troubles that its overall health is now classified as “red” — meaning it is in serious trouble…

The documents reveal new information about the dam’s geotechnical struggles and raise troubling questions about who in government knew about the project’s climbing costs and deepening geotechnical woes, when they knew it and why the information was not made public.

Key sections of the documents, including information pertaining to rising cost pressures and the severity of key project risks from January 2018 to January 2020, are redacted.

Even so, the documents paint a picture of a project rife with growing geotechnical issues and risks as well as safety and quality concerns — and facing a rising risk of cost overruns and schedule delays — long before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down much of the province and temporarily scaled back the Site C dam workforce in mid-March…

Governments never hide good news so rest assured that huge chunks of redacted information are filled with messaging that BC Hydro and the NDP don’t want us to know.

With the full story, John Horgan had a choice to make.

Call an election now or wait a year and risk dramatic exposure of his $12 billion dollar failure in northeast BC.

According to BC Liberals for almost two decades, NDP incompetence was behind the hundreds of millions lost in the fast ferries project of the 1990s.

By comparison, and in real dollars, Site C might be 20 times more costly than the departed aluminum catamarans. It might push John Horgan’s party into oblivion.

Knowing the risk of exposure, BC NDP chose to call an early election, despite the second Covid-19 wave, hoping to be returned to govern for another four or five years.

Even if Site C were completed as BC Hydro originally hoped, it was the most costly option available to produce electricity. So, it was a mistake from the start. But, had it been an $8 billion white elephant that produced energy, savvy public relations could have made that look okay.

As it is, Site C might be a $12 billion money pit that produces nothing but political fallout.

Politicians prefer to hide mistakes. But this risk of total Site C failure cannot be hidden for much longer.

That may explain why we’re voting on Saturday. If re-elected with a majority, BC NDP has a number of years to lie about Site C being Christy Clark’s fault, not John Horgan’s.

Categories: BC Hydro, Horgan, John, Site C

10 replies »

  1. Or, if John has some balls, and wins a healthy majority on Saturday, he could cancel Site C. On my desk I have a copy from The Comox Valley Record dated Tuesday, October 24th, 2017. The article is an opinion piece by the late Desmond Travis on BC Hydro’s little fibs on Site C. So, we know all the information about all, the flaws of Site C aren’t new, and John and his entourage of back scratchers, fart catchers, yes-people, and gophers, knows too. I don’t know if John and his cabal can spin the story to completely blame the Liberals? Norm hasn’t been the only blogger, hollering from the roof tops, about Site C and mismanagement at BC Hydro. Next question. How come the mass-media has been so quiet about this topic?

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    • Yes, the real story here is the cover up. Public servants in government and crown corps need to be held to account for the breach of trust and loss of billions of dollars.

      If we can’t stop obviously negative projects;
      if we can’t find the courage to remove those who lack courage;
      if we can’t hold people to account for misdeeds;

      Then our species will die out… drowned by the cumulative consequences of our stupidity in spite if the facts. Like lemmings marching towards the cliff, who is looking up, looking ahead and giving an honest warning?

      Norm, thank you so much for your work. You may end up like St. Jerome being a witness to the fall of Rome.

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  2. If Site C were abandoned permanently in 2020, BC Hydro would have to declare an immediate loss of more than $6 billion dollars, a sum that would have dire political consequences for Premier Horgan and his party.

    As it is, the project is carried on the books as “Unfinished Construction” and no depreciation expense is attached. In other words, it has little impact on the “profits” declared each year.

    If Site C were completed for $12 billion, with a 40-year straight-line write-off, the annual depreciation expense would be $300 million. That suggests a fixed cost of about 7 cents per KWh. Add in 4 or 5 cents a KWh for operating, distribution and administrative costs and expect Site C to cost about $500 million a year.

    Selling Site C electricity to the natural gas industry for around 6 cents a KWh allows recovery of about half that amount.

    In other words, at best, Site C will lose $250 million a year. That will be recovered by charging higher rates to residential and commercial customers and there would little fallout for people in government.

    Norm’s suggestion that construction difficulties put completion at risk may be true but Premier Horgan probably believes the dam’s building site difficulties will take a few years to fully develop. By then, it will be a problem for someone else.

    Politicians are invariably short term thinkers. I’m sure the people around John Horgan could care less if Site C is in service for only five or ten years. If it fails in 2030, some other leader will be standing there saying, “It’s not my fault.”

    By the way, I’m a lurker here who seldom comments but I sure appreciate the smart people who do contribute in meaningful ways.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes. Add interest and the losses/yr increase.

      Yes. Rates will have to increase. More customers will shutdown, rates have to increase… etc. etc.

      You may be right about the project plowing through. It appears that gov. knew all along that the project wasn’t feasible. The only thing that could change is a ‘come to Jesus moment’ for Horgan where is realizes he must tell the truth to prevent loss of life and damaged ecosystems. Let’s watch and see if he has any integrity.

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  3. The joker in the deck is solar power. Within 10 years, solar power will be quite cheap, compared to today.

    I had my eyes opened very wide just two weeks ago where helping a friend close down the family cottage at a Cariboo lake, his neighbor has installed a solar powered water heater and solar powered electrical set up. For $15K installation he has year round power and heat. he told me that he is saving over $1,500 a year and the installation will pay for itself, at current rates in less than 10 years.

    This technology will only improve and as more people start producing their own power, the demand will drop.causing prices to rise.

    Site C is a yesterday’s project; a dinosaur, slowly sinking in the shale.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. YES! Solar gets cheaper by double digit percentages every year, and so does the battery tech to use it on a mass scale.

    Imagine how far a fraction of the SiteC budget could go towards decentralized solar+battery projects and R&D in BC. Plenty could be built in just a few years, and it’s very scalable.

    Battery and solar materials are changing for the better as time passes as we find ways to use common elements such as silicon, etc.

    https://www.carbonbrief.org/solar-is-now-cheapest-electricity-in-history-confirms-iea

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  5. One of Robert Fulghum’s many insightful books about the often humorous side of the human condition is titled, “It Was On Fire When I Lay Down On It.” The title came from the response a tenant reportedly gave to firemen questioning how an apartment fire started from his bed. “I don’t know,” he said, “it was on fire when I lay on it.”

    This seems to be the quality of John Horgan’s excuse for the bonfire at Site C.

    He might be able to manoeuvre through the short term fallout on this debacle through obfuscation (like the way Mr. Milburn is currently allowing himself to be used), but history will view him through a much sharper lens. And he won’t look good.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is the day. Did enough people learn of the corruption and incompetence within the Liberals and NDP? We’ll find out.

    From discussions I’ve had, most people still believe the hype that we don’t have enough electrical generation un BC. We, as intelligent readers need to spread the truth and try to get more eyes on this blog. If the majority continue to believe the propaganda and political decisions are made based on lies…. we will all be doomed.

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  7. Site C scandal was barely considered by voters. I’m very disappointed in the electorate in BC. Clearly integrity is not valued or a pre-requisite to hold office in BC.

    The NDP is just another version of any old cleptocracy. These parties are working hard to dig the graves of future generations.

    Liked by 1 person

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