Category: Site C

Blunders, haste and waste

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We know the Premier vowed to get Site C dam past the “point of no return” before the May 2017 provincial election. Clark’s Liberals have their own reasons for Site C haste and these eventually will be revealed, perhaps by a postmortem report of an inquiry into the economic destruction of BC Hydro. However, we do know that incautiously pushing a project forward can be costly. Unfortunately, the cost of error will fall not on decision makers but on taxpayers not wealthy enough to hide their income elsewhere.

Why this, why now?

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Are there secret reasons why Liberals committed billions of dollars for Site C to produce power that BC consumers won’t need, even in the distant future? Have we had hints of why there is a rush toward what Premier Clark called the point of no return and what others called a route to nowhere? Do those reasons have anything to do with the rewarding habits of prime Site C contractors?

Liberal hypocrisy

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…In broader terms, Holm emphasized, “The land to be flooded by Site C is capable of producing high-yielding fresh fruits and vegetables for over a million people.”

…Much like the Liberal Government did to the BC Utilities Commission – barring the public’s independent energy watchdog from reviewing the economics and need for Site C – it has also stripped the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) of its lawful oversight of the biggest potential land removal in its history.

…Beneath the 15,000-page reports, the political shenanigans with the review process, and all the rhetoric about economic development lies a simple truth: Last year, BC generated about 110% as much electricity as it needed, but produced, at most, 48% of the food it consumed. In other words, while we have plenty of electricity to power our homes and businesses well into the future, the same thing cannot be said about our food security…

IPPs received $672 million above market price in 2015

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I’ve been reviewing more than 20 years of BC Hydro records and they show gradual growth in electrical demand until 2005. Subsequently, there has been no demand growth; in 2015, domestic power sales were lower than ten years before. What did grow were Hydro’s purchases of electricity from independent power producers. In calendar year 2006, 5,636 GWh supplied by IPPs cost $368 million (6.5¢/KWh); in 2015, 14,418 GWh cost Hydro $1,217 million (8.4¢/KWh).
A 155% increase in the volume of IPP purchases is alarming by itself given the lack of need for it but the average unit price has been rising steadily. In the 4th quarter of 2015, IPP unit prices were 9.2% higher than the preceding quarter. To accommodate power coming into the system, BC Hydro had to choose between shutting down their own capacity or dumping power in markets outside BC at well below cost…

What’s wrong with this picture?

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What’s really wrong is that BC Hydro has been spending billions on new capacity but producing less power. Demand has not grown since 2005 but purchases from IPPs, between FY 2005 and FY 2015, rose 108% from 6,444 GWh to 13,377. The purchasing is up again in 2016, by about 11%. The cost of IPP power was almost $500 million more in FY 2015 than in 2013.

When you’re determined to reward IPP friends but have too much power and no profitable export markets, you shut down your own low-cost operations…

Forces of Know

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Site C Is a Climate-Change Disaster, Says Suzuki, Mychaylo Prystupa, The Tyee, February 23, 2016: Flooding valuable farmland to build the Site C dam undermines Canada’s commitment to meet international climate-change targets, […]

Certainty of Site C massive cost overrun is 86%

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BC’s Minister of Energy said in mid October that the $7.9 billion budget for Site C had been examined by top international experts and was assuredly “reliable.” Two months later, Premier Clark revealed the dam budget had jumped to $8.5 billion. Days passed and when project approval was announced, the budget had jumped to $8.775 billion. Once again, the British Columbia Liberals demonstrate practiced mendacity. They are consistent though since mega-projects of the past five years typically doubled between first announcement and completion but were invariably pronounced to be on-time and on-budget. The mantra will be used again…

Liberal estimates and guesstimates

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“With an average cost overrun of over 90%, large dams have one of the highest cost overruns among all infrastructure asset classes. This result is before accounting for negative impacts on human society and environment, and without including the effects of inflation and debt servicing…