BC Hydro

Special interests dictated BC’s energy policy

For years, informed commentators without a partisan interest or a financial stake in construction of Site C argued for alternative energy projects. BC New Democrats and BC Hydro were disinterested in lower cost production of electricity generated close to where it is consumed. Many of us are certain we know why.

Make no mistake. Special interest groups dictated the government’s energy policy.

Union contributions of $6.3 million in 2016 and 2017 were crucial in the NDP’s rise to power. Without that financial backing, John Horgan’s successful 2017 campaign would have been a non-starter. But for the sale of its headquarters in 2015, the party would have been in deficit for three consecutive years.

The government of France has not been as influenced by financial contributors. In 1995, France enacted a law that prohibited candidates from receiving donations from legal entities. Political parties could not be financial dependents of unions and business groups.

Along with Spain and other European nations, France is receptive to wind and solar power. To address intermittency, Europe’s grid-scale energy storage capacity will expand 20-fold by 2031.

The time required to add wind and solar power capacity is typically about two years from approval to completion. Site C is taking more than 10 years to construct and planning for the project went on for decades before.

Wind and solar can coexist with agricultural activities. Site C will inundate Class 1 farmland that has minimal limitations in what it can produce.

An energy initiative in France is one that could be copied everywhere. The new policy is expected to add capacity of 11 gigawatts to the French electricity grid, which is equivalent to ten Site C projects.

France has approved legislation that will require all car parks with more than 80 spaces to be covered over by solar panels. This is part of a wider programme that will see solar panels occupy derelict lots, vacant land alongside roads and railways, as well as some farmland.

France’s plan for solar panels on all car parks is just the start of an urban renewable revolution

Hydrostor, a Toronto based company, advertises itself as “the world’s leading developer of Advanced Compressed Air Energy Storage (A-CAES) projects, enabling the transition to a CLEANER, more AFFORDABLE and more FLEXIBLE electricity grid.

Western Canada’s preeminent energy reporter Markham Hislop interviewed Hydrostor’s President about its activities.


The world is moving rapidly toward wind and solar power and new forms of energy storage. Sadly, BC is sitting on the sidelines, stuck in technology that made sense fifty years ago.

Photo by Nuno Marques on Unsplash

Categories: BC Hydro, NDP BC

9 replies »

  1. “Make no mistake. Special interest groups dictated the (BC NDP) government’s energy policy. (and not bc liberals too?)

    “Union contributions of $6.3 million in 2016 and 2017 were crucial ….”

    To be fair, here are the BC NDP and the BC Liberals respective Contributors (third party donations) for those two years:

    BC Liberals January 2016 to December 2017 $27,241,730.85

    BC NDP January 2016 to December 2017 $18,621,933.62

    As to ‘… crucial in the NDP’s rise to power …’ I think that voters got tired of the BC Liberals Wild Wild West donations from out of Province friends


    • The common defence to criticism offered by NDP supporters is “BC Liberals were worse.” I for one am tired of that. A bad, even corrupt, predecessor does not exempt the current government from expressions of disapproval.

      Almost six years have passed since BC Liberals were in power. They initiated Site C because they wanted to offer hidden subsidies to fossil gas producers in the form of below-cost electricity delivered to prospective LNG operations.

      That was bad policy. As reported by The Narwhal, Christy Clark claimed that “creating a huge fossil fuel export industry in B.C. will somehow reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.” Liberals supposed that natural gas could be cleanly burned at thermal power plants outside the province while they were banning gas-fired power generation at home.

      But… NDP took power in July 2017. They could have altered energy policies that were harmful to the economy, the climate, and the environment. They chose not to do so. In fact, they made them worse by increasing subsidies to fossil fuel companies and they continued to hide information about the amount of those subsidies and who got them.

      For years, Liberals relied on contributions from corporations. Large donations shaped public policies and the people providing those funds expected and received government favours in return.

      NDP altered the political financing system so that party funds provided by taxpayers are substantial. However, NDP made sure that public funding mostly reinforced the two party system.

      It is important for informed observers to publicly declare that energy policies in this province have been badly mistaken for the last decade. If the general public comes to a better understanding, continuing these policies would be politically untenable.


  2. Thank you Norman.

    I did a search: ‘British Columbia increasing subsidies to fossil fuel companies’

    The Tyee: 25 June 2021 Michelle Gamage

    BC Spends More Subsidizing Fossil Fuels than on Fighting Climate Change: Report


    The subsidies provided in 2020-21 ($1.3 billion) are more than double what they were the last year the BC Liberals were in power ($557 million), the report says. Stand.earth predicts subsidies will surpass $1.8 billion in the next three years, which would be triple what the Liberals spent in 2016–17.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. the whole site c affair was and still is crooked and corrupt as can be from the bc provincial govt to the federal govt–we al know snc lavalins history with crooked corruption around the world and dont forget canada–site c would have never started without the federal govts ok on the distruction of the peace river and the migratory wildlife habitat which is under federal regulation–not one migratory birds nest or habitat could have been disturbed without the feds complicity and we all are aware of the bc provincial govts crooked corrupt complicity also— canadians should be appalled at what has happened and all those who never stood up to the travesty happening in the peace river valley are equally complicied—-news is hydro rates will skyrocket upwards-what will all the naysayers have to say about that when there hydro bills pinch every last dollar from their purse—-we who stood at the rocky mtn fort for 67days in defience of bc hydro were and still are on the right side of history—mark meiers-charlie lk bc


  4. Perhaps special interests were in play, maybe not. At this point don’t care. How we fund politics in Canada isn’t going to change anytime soon.

    We are stuck with the problem for now. The next really big earthquake will take care of the dam dam. Of course we will still be stuck paying for it, unless its insured and I’m sure its not.

    Yes, the B.C. Lieberals were worse and that still keeps me voting the way I do. Not going to be changing in this life time. Just the whole saga of Timber west over here on Vancouver Island is enough for me. Then of course Christy’s clawing back the child support kids received from their non custodial parents, oh, just check Laila’s list of 100 reasons the B.C. Lieberals should be voted out of office. We voted them out and I’m truly hoping we don’t see them back in office again.


    • I agree that BC Liberals (or United Conservative Party or whatever that right-wing group calls themselves today) remain unworthy of support from voters, particularly when led by a friend of the People’s Party leader Maxime Bernier.

      Remember this report by CTV:

      Maxime Bernier has lost his defamation fight against a controversial columnist who repeatedly portrayed the People’s Party of Canada leader as racist, misogynist and anti-Semitic during the run-up to the 2019 federal election.

      In defamation cases, truth is always a successful defence. How does Kevin Falcon choose to applaud and pal with Bernier?

      However, BC NDP continues to fail in addressing the existential problem of climate change. It should be the number one priority but is not.

      Those who’ve given up on Liberals and NDP have an alternative: Sonia Furstenau and the BC Green Party. If they gain even a handful of seats in 2024, and NDP slip back into a minority, change will be forced on David Eby and his colleagues.


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