Brady Yauch is an economist at the Consumer Policy Institute (CPI), which identifies itself as “an independent think-tank dedicated to achieving lower costs and greater efficiencies for Canadian consumers, particularly in sectors run by government monopolies or those receiving large subsidies.” Mr. Yauch published a powerful examination of mismanagement at utilities in four Canadian provinces. I recommend reading the entire linked document but extracts follow that refer specifically to British Columbia. Regular readers of In-Sights will not be surprised at the stated facts but they’ve been routinely ignored by the province’s most experienced political pundits. The information doesn’t suit their political purposes.
Muskrat Falls was always a done deal, and a bad one says Pam Frampton, Saint John’s Telegram. “One week the project was all about clean energy, the next it was job creation, then it was all about being an affordable energy source, then it was a means of foiling Quebec, then it was a lure for mining companies.” The Progressive Conservatives’ sales pitch was scattershot; they threw out a whole bunch of messages and hoped something would resonate with people… Many people worried that the project might be far more than we needed or could afford.
Large dams run 96 percent over budget on average, according to a University of Oxford study based on projects in 65 countries including Brazil and China. The study, published in the journal Energy Policy, showed that large dams also took about 2.3 years longer to complete than originally planned. That was about 44 percent longer than projected at the point of approval. The research was based on a study of 245 dams…
You are a stakeholder in the Peace… It’s time to take a stand and plant your stake to support the cost of the First Nations’ legal battle to STOP SITE C + SAVE THE PEACE RIVER VALLEY. $100 DONATION (tax receipted) plants A YELLOW STAKE (with your name + city name) on the third-generation Boon Farm, which BC Hydro wants to acquire/expropriate… 100% of funds raised directly support Prophet River and West Moberly First Nations legal challenge to Protect the Peace River Valley.
The government’s reckless decision to proceed with the $8.8 billion Site C dam project, without a proven medium term domestic need for the additional power, will seriously weaken BC Hydro’s already poor financial outlook. Possible options to finance the dam must not preclude the fiscal capacity of BC Hydro to reform and restore its existing financial situation, within the context of future affordable rate increases…
Anne Cameron: Well, we’re less than 300 fulltime residents, we’re at the end of a goat track, we’re an hour and a half out of Gold River and, frankly, who gives a poop. We’re being fleeced by two corporations, and we’re being screwed by the government which allows out-of-sight out-of-mind pillage which they will insist on calling “resource extraction”.
After four decades of successful operation, BC Hydro changed drastically under Campbell/Clark Governments. It’s become a patronage playpen, with the chief executive suite and the boardroom peopled with loyal Liberal friends. It’s been a comfortable ride for BC Liberals but a disaster for residents and small-medium businesses. Now the incompetents want to make it even worse by delivering billions more to companies of questionable integrity. Important Site C contractors have been implicated in corrupt and questionable practices.
The structure of the Canadian Entitlement makes it an extremely valuable commodity in the utility industry. Electricity is more valuable when it is virtually guaranteed to be available, or “reliable,” and when its delivery can be shifted to times of high demand, or “flexible.” The Canadian Entitlement offers both of these attributes. British Columbia’s sale of 4,540 GWh of electricity brings in about $120 million a year, which is 2.64¢ per Kwh. We didn’t need that power because, with ever-increasing purchases from independent power producers (IPPs), the province had surplus electricity. In the last reported quarter, December 2016, BC Hydro paid an average of 9.14¢ a KWh to IPPs. Had BC replaced IPP power with the Canadian Entitlement, at 9.14¢/KWh, it would have saved $295 million in 2016.
BC Hydro’s own statistics prove the utility has no good business reasons to be building Site C. Domestic customers use the same volumes of electricity today as a dozen years ago and rapidly rising prices will ensure further conservation moderates consumer demand. BC Liberals argue the new dam should be built, not because it is needed, but because it is providing jobs. That, of course, fails to account for financial damage to commercial and industrial enterprises hit with rapidly rising electricity rates. The competitive advantage of low cost electricity once enjoyed by BC employers has been squandered.
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…
In a 2104 Supreme Court decision, there is a REQUIREMENT that all contracts, to be valid, can only be agreed upon if all parties are acting in Good Faith. Justice Thomas Cromwell wrote “In my view, it is time to take two incremental steps in order to make the common law less unsettled and piecemeal, more coherent and more just. The first step is to acknowledge that good faith contractual performance is a general organizing principle of the common law of contract which underpins and informs the various rules in which the common law, in various situations and types of relationships, recognizes obligations of good faith contractual performance. The second is to recognize, as a further manifestation of this organizing principle of good faith, that there is a common law duty which applies to all contracts to act honestly in the performance of contractual obligations.”
Site C, which was approved without a proper review by the B.C. Utilities Commission, is going to cost $8.8 billion we don’t have to produce electricity we can’t use, to power LNG plants that won’t exist, at a cost too expensive to sell to foreign markets…
A brisk building boom of hydropower mega-dams is underway from China to Brazil. Whether benefits of new dams will outweigh costs remains unresolved despite contentious debates. …We find overwhelming evidence that budgets are systematically biased below actual costs of large hydropower dams — excluding inflation, substantial debt servicing, environmental, and social costs. …The outside view suggests that in most countries large hydropower dams will be too costly in absolute terms and take too long to build to deliver a positive risk-adjusted return
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.
A guest post from Roger Bryenton P.Eng. (former), MBA, Energy Systems Consultant, Suzuki and SPEC elder.
BC residents have not been told the full truths about Site C and BC Hydro’s markets for electricity.