BC Hydro

True cost of hydro power?

What’s commonly thought of as a green solution to energy need is in fact destroying the planet’s last remaining pockets of untouched wilderness and intact ecosystems.

Hydropower may seem like a green solution to meeting the world’s growing electricity demand. But it’s actually a dirty one. Dams emit greenhouse gases, endanger fish species and can uproot communities. In Canada, affected areas are typically unceded Indigenous territories.

Proponents of megaprojects routinely underestimate financial costs. After extensive study, top experts concluded this is caused by “strategic misrepresentation, that is, lying.”

In addition, proponents invariably ignore environmental and social costs of megaprojects.

Bent Flyvbjerg of Oxford University is the most cited scholar in the world in megaproject management, and among the most cited in social science methodology. He is the author or editor of 10 books and more than 200 papers in professional journals and edited volumes. Flyvbjerg was lead author of a paper always read by ex post facto commissions of inquiry

Cost Underestimation in Public Works Projects: Error or Lie?

Based on a sample of 258 transportation infrastructure projects worth US$90 billion and representing different project types, geographical regions, and historical periods, it is found with overwhelming statistical significance that the cost estimates used to decide whether such projects should be built are highly and systematically misleading.

Underestimation cannot be explained by error and is best explained by strategic misrepresentation, that is, lying. The policy implications are clear: legislators, administrators, investors, media representatives, and members of the public who value honest numbers should not trust cost estimates and cost-benefit analyses produced by project promoters and their analysts.

BC Hydro’s Site C is worse than nearly all megaprojects examined by Flyvbjerg et al. The academics found that for a randomly selected group of projects, the likelihood of actual costs being larger than estimated costs was 86%.

However, they found actual costs were on average 28% higher than estimated. BC Hydro’s continuously rising Site C budget is now an astounding 92% higher than its $8.335 billion estimate when construction began.

Categories: BC Hydro, Site C, Uncategorized

7 replies »

  1. I think it has to go beyond the simple desire to propagate jobs for themselves, and the level of error is so high that it can’t be just incompetence, The amount of money being funnelled out of taxpayers pockets over the next 70 years, here, in Manitoba Hydros Keeyask dam, and Nflds Muskrat Falls dam, speaks to theft on a massive scale. It is reminiscent of the bail out that the banks got in the 80’s when our interest rates went to 22% after several countries defaulted on their loans to the World Bank. And when, not if, the interest rates go up again in the face of the troubles ahead, it would be even more problematic.


    • Very true… I’m not one to put much credence in conspiracy theories, but three megadams, all starting at about $6 billion and all ending up in the teens of billions…. too matchy matchy for a coincidence.

      The real convicted crooks that are not hiding are SNC Lavalin… Wilson-Raybould was the last line of defense against these guys and Trudeau conveniently kicked her to the sidelines.

      Our entire country has been captured and sold to the highest bidder. Forget elections… only civil disobedience will work now… refuse to go into an office… refuse to meet with unethical people…. refuse to do unethical work

      If we all did, and there were massive firings, only the sociopaths would be left to run things, and we all know they are incompetent.


      • You bring up good points about SNC Lavalin, and refusing to do unethical work.

        What is so ethical about their professional code of ethics?

        One wonders how any of BC’s professional engineers and geoscientists can stomach the insincerity of their willingness to line their pockets on the Site C travesty, given that one of the first obligations stated in their Code of Ethics is “Hold paramount the safety, health and welfare of the public, the protection of the environment…”?

        On the “safety, health and welfare of the public” objective, recall that Site C will deepen the alienation, isolation, illness and dependence of the affected Treaty 8 First Nations. Likewise, on “the protection of the environment” objective, the environmental destruction guaranteed by this 3rd hydro-electric dam on the greater Peace River ecosystem is undeniably horrific.

        Regardless of their superior expertise, BC’s professional engineers’ and geoscientists’ code of ethics goes on to spell out their absolute subservience in relation to their employer’s ambitions (who pays the piper calls the tune): “Act as faithful agents of their clients or employers, maintain confidentiality and avoid a conflict of interest but, where such conflict arises, fully disclose the circumstances without delay to the employer or client.”

        It strikes me that the codes of ethics for all professionals (not just the engineers and geoscientists), are open to abuse: through shutting down of potentially problematic commentary from professionals; because “who pays the piper, calls the tune.” If those who control the purse strings don’t like the way things are going . . . the professional can be dispatched with or without pay; knowing that the professional’s code of ethics will force them to remain silent.

        How’s that for ultimate control over professionals, whether ethical or not?


        • “Act as faithful agents of their clients or employers, maintain confidentiality and avoid a conflict of interest but, where such conflict arises, fully disclose the circumstances without delay to the employer or client.”

          The Hydro and Power Authority Act states at s3(1) that: “The authority is for all its purposes an agent of the government and its powers may be exercised only as an agent of the government.”

          I would argue that since the government is of the people, and BC Hydro is an agent of the government, any engineer working for BC Hydro owes us the duty of faith and confidence.


          • The last sentence in my previous post is perhaps inartfully worded. Lest there be any doubt, my intent was to say that the duty to us the public is that of the truth promptly told, especially in matters of safety to public limb and purse.

            As pointed out by Alex Inselberg above, The Code of Ethics required under the BC Professional Governance Act, and created in the Bylaws of Engineers and Geoscientists BC provides a set of principles that all registrants are required to follow. It states in part, “Registrants must act at all times with fairness, courtesy and good faith toward all persons with whom the registrant has professional dealings, and in accordance with the public interest.”

            The first of 13 code tenets states, “hold paramount the safety, health, and welfare of the public, including the protection of the environment and the promotion of health and safety in the workplace;”

            The Professional Engineers Act of Ontario defines the engineering practice thusly:

            “practice of professional engineering means any act of planning, designing, composing, evaluating, advising, reporting, directing or supervising that requires the application of engineering principles and concerns the safeguarding of life, health, property, economic interests, the public welfare or the environment, or the managing of any such act;”

            No one expects professional engineers to publicly divulge trade secrets or personal third party information. But the public interest (including indigenous and economic) is held high and is a common thread in guiding principles and law. That interest is not respected by sitting quietly in the corner while this damaging project proceeds.

            Yet the silence from within is deafening.

            Liked by 1 person

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