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Posted: July 1, 2017

Site C will cost us for years to come

Letter to the Editor

About 20 years ago Wildsight (then EKES) sponsored a guest speaker from the Peace River country. His name was Ken Boon and his topic was the proposal to build a third dam on the Peace River.

At the time we all thought the chances of this becoming a reality were remote. Fast forward to 2017 and construction on the most expensive mega-project in B.C.’s history is underway. Due to regulatory changes imposed by the Liberal government the project did not undergo a revue by the BC Utilities Commission. Had it done so it is likely that the final report would have called into question the economics of the project and it’s high cost to ratepayers.

Ken and Arlene Boon’s worst fears have been realized as they have now received an expropriation notice from BC Hydro. The farm, which has been in their family for generations, will be flooded along with 83 kilometres of river bottom which is both farmland and important riparian habitat. The nightmare is just beginning for the rest of us.

Mark Eliesen, former CEO of BC Hydro has been quoted as saying that the dam “is scheduled to be a big white elephant.” Dr. Harry Swain who was appointed to chair the Joint Federal Provincial Review panel was quoted as saying: “Hydro’s demand forecasts are persistently and consistently wrong. There is no reason to believe that much new power, if any, will be required in the next 20 to 30 years. People are going to wind up paying for a stranded asset through their taxes for years and years to come. Hydro will not have the financial capacity to pay for it, so it will fall to the guarantors of the debt, that is the taxpayers.” (source: Hydro Bill Madness report by Sierra Club)

Mr. Swain has now become a vocal critic of the project.

A recent report authored by Karen Bakker of UBC states that the project will be so economically unviable that we would be better off to walk away from the $1,500 million dollars already spent on it. To complete it will lock us in to huge long-term debt. For those of you that are thinking “we will just sell the power to the U.S.” – think again.

The selling price for power in the Pacific Northwest spot market is around $25-30 US per MWh and demand is weak. That is so far below the estimated cost of site C power as to be frightening. The estimated cost of generating power at Site C ranges from about $80 -$100 MWh. This means we would be selling at an enormous loss.

This in addition to deferring the massive BC Hydro debt and the ongoing fallout from the so-called Clean Energy Act which locked BC Hydro (that means you and I ) into paying as much as $140 MWh for power purchased under long term contracts with independent power producers ( IPPs). That is over four times the price being paid on the open market. (source: Business Vancouver : Site C dam energy cost concerns rising).

No matter what sources one uses to analyze this project it makes no economic sense.

This was brought to you by a Liberal government that claimed to be very good at economic management. There can be little doubt how this will play out if the project goes to completion. We will be slammed with huge increases either in taxes or in rates. All British Columbians need to get their faces off Facebook for a moment and consider the long term consequences of this politically driven boondoggle. I have not even touched on the environmental impact, which will be significant. I urge readers to think about this and educate themselves on this very important issue. Failure to do so will cost us dearly for decades to come.

Jim Campbell,


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