Rafe Mair was a man with long experience in government, journalism and political activism. He warned us of the consequences after Canada’s largest newspaper chain crawled in bed with the fossil fuel industry.
The utility loses money on every watt of private power it buys and resells. That is the single largest financial difficulty faced by the company. In the future, it is obliged to buy about $60 billion of electricity from IPPs at prices that will increase with inflation. There is no pressing need for most of the IPP production but the obligation for its purchase cripples BC Hydro.
If you are paying attention to the affairs of BC Hydro, you know the utility in in financial trouble. However, it is electricity consumers that are feeling the pain. Unfortunately, with billions of dollars in phony assets to be written off, a growing power supply that outstrips static demand, payments to private power producers at three times market price and an an export market awash in surplus power, the economic agony dealt by BC Hydro will accelerate.
I assume that logic and fact will prevail and Site C, the most expensive public project in BC history, will be cancelled. It is a costly disaster but BC Hydro ratepayers are burdened even more by payments to independent power producers (IPPs). Much of the almost $100 million a month paid to IPPs leaves the province permanently because majority ownership is domiciled elsewhere. Private producers are paid a multiple of the wholesale value of the electricity they deliver.
The four monthly auctions of gas rights held since John Horgan became Premier indicate the industry accepts it must pay more than it did under Christy Clark. However, the gas industry’s investment in Ms. Clark paid off handsomely while she sat at the head of the Liberal Cabinet table.
According to BC’s Budget Transparency and Accountability Act, September 15 was the final day for BC Hydro to make public its quarterly report for the period ended June 30. It was released October 16, which was the first business day following the conclusion of the final technical presentation session regarding Site C before the BC Utilities Commission (BCUC). That meant people appearing at BCUC’s community input hearings in September and early October only had financial information for the utility that was six months out of date…
Corruption is particularly relevant for megaprojects because of their intrinsic characteristics. Megaprojects are projects characterized by: large investment commitment, vast complexity (especially in organizational terms), and long-lasting impact on the economy, the environment, and society…
Today is another sad day. We’ll no longer connect directly with Rafe Mair and hear his stories and his passionate advice. He knew this day was approaching but he intended to make his last years meaningful. And, they were. In 2017, Mr. Mair was finishing another book and he was a regular contributor to online journals. Beyond that, seeking to both inform and provoke, he broadcast a regular series of emails to people on his lists…
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.
According to Financial Post writer Geoffrey Morgan, BC Hydro sent an October 3 communication to the BC Utilities Commission (BCUC). The letter explained why it continues to forecast a surge in electricity demand, despite a dozen years of flat sales to BC consumers…
When British Columbia’s new government took power In July, they quickly changed the CEO, the Board Chair and two other directors. That left in place most of the hierarchy that managed the utility into its current disastrous condition. More changes are needed. Immediately.
Clearly, Site C is not intended to meet the needs of existing BC Hydro customers. As noted, demand and supply are in balance for the next decade, even without aggressive efforts of conservation, the greenest solution to energy shortages.
There is another source of electricity readily available. It is Revelstoke Unit 6…
I originally published A false notion in June 2010 and repeated it two years later. It came to mind after Postmedia’s senior west coast pundit wrote B.C. Hydro’s Site C promises ring hollow. […]
The BC Business Party told many contemptuous lies during its tenure but ones involving LNG were the largest. The captured corporate media crew in BC’s Legislative Press Gallery facilitated Liberal untruthfulness by failing to look behind or beyond government press releases. Attentive research would have convinced any objective researcher that government was telling tall tales when it projected an almost $3 billion a month increase in in gross domestic product (GDP).
In the May 2017 election, only two of the main parties committed to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. BC Liberals were uncomfortable with clauses related to informed consent that would interfere with business of their corporate donors. John Horgan’s NDP Government and Andrew Weaver’s Green Party committed to a different approach. This was affirmed in today’s Throne Speech and we are left to hope the promises are not hollow, as were similar ones by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
With news the BC Ferries vessel Spirit of British Columbia is about to sail to Europe for an extensive refit, I bump this article back to the top. – In October 2015, the Commissioner approved $173 million for the project but, as evidenced by the confidential order three months later, increased the approved amount by $46 million to $219 million. Instead of five times cost of the last refits, the 2016 multiplier is eight. So, whether it is $140, $173, $219 millions or an even higher cost subsequently revealed, whether the contract is completed by 2018, 2019 or later, I predict the refits will be advertised as completed on-time, on-budget. That tag is applied to all BC Liberal projects, no matter how many times the budget or completion date must be altered.
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.
In modern times, the Canadian union movement has lost influence but not relevance. It is easy to forget that unions enabled a broad middle class. Workers in unionized company towns in BC’s 20th century resource economy set the bar for others. They showed how positive full employment with good wages enables high quality life for the entire community.
When Encana’s founding CEO Gwyn Morgan became Christy Clark’s transition team advisor, natural gas producers knew they’d bet on a good thing.
After six years of Clark, we now see just how good that thing was for gas companies.
When a new government takes office, there is often a significant change at senior levels of the civil service and among OIC political appointments. One person still employed by the Horgan government may surprise more than a few people.