Site C: Is new hydro really needed?

The Liberal government scaremongering continues. In response to the defeat of the Duke Point gas-fired power plant the Minister of Energy Neufeld starts blabbing about the need to renew the previously defeated Site C Dam Dam on the Peace River near Fort St. John.

Good logic –  the downfall of bad energy project #1, Duke Point, means we should reconsider bad energy project #2, Site C.

I guess he hasn’t learned the lesson that community groups like the GSX Concerned Citizens Coalition will fight these ill-advised energy mega-projects to the end.

Has no one briefed the Minister on the pitched battle that citizens groups like the Peace Valley Environmental Association and SPEC waged to defeat the Site C proposal back in the early 1980s?

Why is the government pitching new energy mega projects? It appears to be driven, not by concerns for domestic needs, but rather by the thirst for money for government revenues. A close look at BC Hydro’s 2004 Integrated Electricity Plan published in March 2004 shows they are managing the resource for revenue generation, and that this has become a key driver in government economic policy making.

Analysis conducted by experts at the GSX Coalition during the hearings into GSX and the Vancouver Island Generation Project showed that British Columbia still has lots of power, but they want new mega-projects like Duke Point or Site C to create displacement generation to free up power for sale into markets.

Electricity is a commodity. Gordon Campbell, Minister Neufeld, BC Hydro all say BC is a “net importer” of power. But this is a misleading statement. BC buys lots, cheap. We sell lots, dear. At times, the power we buy cheap may cost us less than electricity from Site C would cost us, or power from Duke Point, or any coal-fired generation plant being proposed.

So although because of these trades in some recent years we have become a “net importer” of power, because of lost cost production in BC we come out ahead on the bottom line. And, here is the key thing to remember, if we weren’t trading electricity so aggressively, we would not be a net importer. We don’t need those imports to meet domestic demand!

This is not to say that electricity generation for revenue generation is a bad thing. British Columbia makes money trading power. We buy, we sell. It’s good business if all you look at is revenue and not social and environmental impacts. .

But Minister Neufeld and his minions should be honest and not try to use the “net importer” decoy and threats of a dusted off Site C to cover their real agenda–exporting BC resources like hydro, logs and minerals to generate government revenue.

Let’s see the government try to move forward on the Site C proposal. We dare yaw!

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