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Posted: August 7, 2016

Site C could be B.C.’s Muskrat Falls

Letter to the Editor

Have you ever heard of Muskrat Falls in Newfoundland? If you have not, it may be because it might be best to keep it quiet.

Turns out that Muskrat Falls is the latest hydro electric project to go belly up in debt. It is a project that began in in 2010 under the previous government and was estimated to have cost $6.2 billion. At the moment, the price tag has ballooned (surprise?) to a whopping $11.3 billion and counting for the Newfoundland government.

The government has run out of money and is desperately seeking an additional $4 billion from the federal government. It will likely get the support but there is no guarantee that this will be enough. The new CEO of Nalcor, which is building the facility, now admits that Muskrat Falls is a project ill conceived, but the ratepayers of the province will shoulder the costs. (who else would?) The new Premier Dwight Ball has called it a “boondoggle” of the previous government. (Always good to pass the buck.)

This project shares an uncanny number of similarities with B.C.’s own hydroelectric pet project called Site C. Here are some of the ‘errors’ made by Newfoundland that look alarmingly identical to B.C.’s own hydro project:

Newfoundland “skipped” using its own Utility Commission to evaluate the financial viability or need of the project. (The government of B.C. made it illegal for B.C. Utility Commission to examine the need for Site C or its financial viability.)

Newfoundland had its own Federal-Provincial Joint Panel Review of the project. The government of the day “ignored” many of the recommendations that came from the JRP. (BC had its own Joint Panel Review about two years ago. The B.C. government “ignored” many of the recommendations as well. In fact, Harry Swaine, Chair of the committee is now in total opposition to the Site C project based on costs of the project or electricity needs).

Newfoundland’s electricity bills are slated to skyrocket from 11.9 cents /kWh to 21.4 cents/kWh by 2021 effectively doubling their ratepayers’ costs. (Meanwhile… here in B.C. we are now seeing non-stop rate increases with no end in sight-even without Site C in the equation. Presently our second tier cost is 12.3 cents/kWh and also rising).

Newfoundland”s Nalcor “predicted” massive increases in demand for electricity… they were wrong. (BC Hydro “predicted” massive increases in demand for electricity since 2006… they were wrong.)

One might think that B.C. is “following the lead” of Newfoundland…into bankruptcy! This seems to be a case of the blind leading the blind when it comes to understanding the logic of the BC Liberals and their quest to build Site C.

Mike Kroecher and Rick Koechl,

Charlie Lake

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