BC: a follower, not a leader

The BC Government could have learned from hydropower disasters in Newfoundland and Labrador and Manitoba as those were unfolding. Spending went out of control on Muskrat Falls and Keeyask. Because NL has only about 10% of BC’s population, the federal government had to step in to avoid ruinous electricity rate increases.

BC could have learned. It did not, because political and private interests ranked ahead of the public’s.

People filling their pockets with Site C cash used a few arguments to gain support for energy policies chosen by Premiers Clark and Horgan.

First, lobbyists said BC population is growing each year by one to two percent, proving, they said, that we regularly need new sources of electricity. However, British Columbia had 1.1 million more residents in 2020 than in 2005 and yet, BC Hydro sold 2% more electricity to residential, commercial and industrial consumers in 2005 than in 2020.

Despite flat demand, BC Hydro spent billions to add generating capacity and tripled its purchases of private power to $1.4 billion in CY 2020.

Site C proponents claimed alternative energy sources were unreliable and more expensive. They talked about dispatchability, which relates to meeting peak demands almost instantly.

Apparently, the laws of physics are unique in British Columbia. Here, only more hydropower could guarantee energy needs are met. Wind turbines & solar panels don’t work in BC?

But in 2020, the European Union relied on those sources for 20% of energy generation. UK’s use of wind and solar was 29%. Some EU nations do better. Wind turbines and solar panels make up as much as 63% of Denmark’s and 33% of Germany’s power.

Energy alternatives to Site C more expensive? Well, facts prove the opposite.

Site C electricity will cost between $120,000 and $160,000 per Gigawatt-hour. No matter what the final cost turns out to be, if Site C even produces electricity, it’s a felonious waste of public money.

Given the failures of other arguments, Site C proponents said the need for more electricity will be driven by vehicle electrification. Consider that those can be recharged when demand is low and even feed back into the grid at times of peak demand, and that vehicles can be charged in large and small solar car parks at workplaces and shopping centres.

In 2009, the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions at the University of Victoria reported that BC had capacity to charge nearly every registered gasoline-powered vehicles on BC roads—even during winter’s peak demand. In summer, generators could theoretically support more than 8.8 million vehicles.

Since then, BC’s generating capacity has increased and the demand for electricity has decreased.

The UK’s National Grid forecasts that households with an EV will be smart charging their car when electricity market prices and power demand are lower. About 45% of homes will be able to offer balancing capability to the grid, creating gigawatts of flexible electricity to help manage peaks and troughs in demand.

Exciting new energy and battery technologies are here today and more on the horizon.

Third world nations that lacked communication systems were able to adopt modern cell phone technology quickly because they weren’t burdened by outdated systems. That’s making a difference in the fight against global poverty.

If British Columbia chooses to stay committed to old and destructive energy generation, the province will be left behind.

See the source image

Other jurisdictions will adopt new technologies and gain advantages over those that do not.

The fact is, British Columbia is better off without Site C, even if much money has already been spent. Think about the Sunk Cost Fallacy. It may be hard to accept the loss of billions now spent, but we have more to gain from alternative energy systems.

In addition, we would protect top class farmlands and not break faith again with Indigenous people affected by flooding of the Peace River valley.

Sunk Cost Fallacy

The Sunk Cost Fallacy impacts decisions made by individuals, corporations, and governments.

While Premier Horgan and his associates know better, they believed the electorate would accept simple but faulty reasoning defending an uneconomic project that, for their own reasons, they wanted to proceed.

One famous example of sophistry was coined the Concorde Fallacy.

Aircraft and engine manufacturers partnered with the French and British governments in the project. Long before the aircraft was complete, Concorde development was known to be uneconomic. However, the project continued.

Those involved kept pouring money into the project because they had already invested prestige, time, and considerable cash in Concorde.

But the final product was an overpriced flying white elephant. Only fourteen production aircraft took to the air.

Billions of dollars were wasted. The Concorde turned out to be a better showpiece than a flying machine.

Too bad Site C doesn’t offer the same possibility.

Categories: Energy, Site C

6 replies »

  1. They are not going to change their position because they are following wishes and orders of corporations. The function of governments in Canada and its provinces regardless of their color (blue, Red, or orange) are to manage the population while implementing corporate policies and dictates. In short we have corporate rule here while we pretend that we live in a democracy.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Could not agree more with this article

    Just waiting for the dinosaurs in government to go extinct before BC can start to progress past the stone age

    All I hear from Horgan is “Yabba dabba do!”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Nothing new here, nothing at all.

    Government reigns by photo-op and the best photo-ops are in front of multi billion dollar mega projects. They show power, jobs, and a future, while in reality they demonstrate weakness, debt, and a declining jobs market.

    It’s a kinder 1984 but that’s about it.

    We have precedent in BC with mega projects that should not be but because of politcal intrigue, continue.

    SkyTrain is a prime example, and now we have invested over almost 40 years, in what Site C will cost, an excess of %16 billion.

    Government knew by 1983, that what we call SkyTrain was a renamed proprietary light metro that had no advantage with its chief competitor, light rail and we were warned by the transportation experts at the time not to buy it.

    We again knew by the 1990’s, that the twice again renamed SkyTrain (with its third owner of the proprietary railway) that it cost over three as much to build than LRT and lacked the capacity of LRT. Oh yeah, LRT was cheaper to operate as well.

    The NDP blindly went ahead and built the now called Millennium Line.

    The Canada line’s chequered history is such that the phony P-3 saw SNC Lavalin bid against SNC Lavalin to build a grade separated railway, which had less capacity than a simple streetcar, but cost 3 to 4 times more to build!

    And now the $4.6 billion extensions to the Expo and Millennium lines, grossly overbuilt and will be heavily subsidized because of a complete lack of ridership potential.

    Horgan could have stopped it, Horgan could have asked for an independent audit, but no, spend, spend, spend.

    How many photo-ops at SkyTrain is unknown, but at every election, politcal wannabees jostle for position to show their pearly teeth in from of this mega-project.

    Yet Vancouver is the only city in the world of the 7 built, that continues to build with this extremely dated transit system.

    Site C is more of the same, with massive upfront costs, massive debt, massive subsidies, yet it will be a focal point, like the absolutely needless $3 billion Broadway subway,of politcal photo-ops for many elections to come.

    Like covid, regional transit and Site C, Horgan and the NDP have lost the plot and continue to be the problem and not the solution.

    Honest common sense does not exist with all politcal parties in BC as our future is being written in massive debt and massive taxes to pay for today’s politcal follies.


  4. Will we see a time when politicians are kicked in their stupid rears where there crooked thinking brains reside, and held accountable by an angry fed up public, to realize who they work for instead of the special interest. Is that what it will take to put some those self pleasing morons on track. Politicians and high profile public figures in positions of power whom screw society and causes large scale harm because of their corrupt acts need to be prosecuted. The money laundering case before us now, is a prime example that took place under the knowing and complicit eye of BC Liberal leaders, and their big friends in power positions. No spankings wanted. Only Jail time. We need reform in our system that was built long ago to protect the corrupt and screw the people.

    I hope that we never get a sick situation that comes about here as we witnessed in the United States, because the political elites were too greedy and self serving and trashed the oaths and duties of their office over the years. Look what it has caused, and is continuing. The wounds are bleeding there. We have the same roots that could be growing here and then a tyrant slips in. It can happen here. I pray not though. Nipping the roots while there small and holding our own politicians to account now is always the best course to avoid any bad outcomes. Public complacency feeds the monster also.


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