Response to BC NDP’s decision to proceed with Site C

Robert Stupka, MASc., P.Eng, is the BC Green Party candidate for Kelowna West. Support his campaign: Donate | Volunteer | Lawn sign

The government’s decision on Monday to continue with the construction of the Site C dam is a major blow to the modern energy vision that was possible with the dam’s cancellation. It is a discouraging reality we must grapple with. As an entrepreneur, professional engineer and Kelowna resident, the wake of this decision leaves me with several important questions that remain unanswered.

First, how do we pay for Site C? There is currently no viable revenue model to cover its costs. It characterizes what’s wrong with politics in BC: the BC Liberals didn’t want to hear the facts and the NDP ignored the facts. The only plan presented by the NDP is for the 20+ years of excess power to be sold to the US. That power will be below-cost, forcing BC ratepayers to subsidize the rest. Meanwhile on Wednesday in Alberta, the equivalent of half of Site C’s capacity was auctioned off for wind projects at more than half of Site C’s cost of production. It’s proof there is no vision for Site C and there should be concern of the lack of foresight by either party to impacts of technological disruption energy and our economy.

Moreover, voters should be very concerned that Site C will encourage energy waste and restrict people from getting full credit for solar power they produce privately to lower their energy bills.

The province has already set in motion a number of new energy efficiency policies, including Net-Zero Ready Buildings by 2032. I am a partner at a company that designs homes today that need 90% less energy to heat. Combined with the use of cheaper solar power, our dependence on the grid will dramatically decline. With BC Hydro’s cumulative debt with Site C, significant future rate increases are inevitable to pay it off.

The jobs within the clean energy sector have also been affected by Site C’s construction. Fewer jobs have been and will be created. As an engineer who worked with Indigenous communities throughout BC to develop local energy projects, I witnessed firsthand how the approval of Site C killed innovation, jobs and local economic development throughout BC. With Site C, there is no room for them. Specifically, the 15 MW cap on independent power projects resulted in the loss of potentially hundreds of jobs locally. A large wind farm was scaled back to a handful of wind turbines on the Pennask Summit, and 120 MW project north of West Kelowna was stalled. Combined the opportunity cost is in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Going forward, momentum on energy efficiency and embracing local power generation must be protected. The BC NDP need to cancel their rate freeze and provide at minimum a 10 year forecast of where rates are going to enable British Columbians to make smart energy choices. Instead of exporting power at a discount, BC should attract industries that could be electrified. The construction of an west - east transmission line to enable the export of power to the rest of Canada would assist with national GHG reduction targets. BC will need to triple down on embracing electrifying transportation. Energy efficient electric heating sources such as heat pump technology can compete with the price of natural gas for home heating and is critical to carbon free buildings. BC should encourage transitions to this technology and encourage companies to develop their products here.

The province and BC Hydro need to take a hard look at where the market is going and what Site C is doing to it. This is critical for BC to provide consumer choice, support the clean tech sector and participate in the 21st century economy. As we now face 70 years of Site C debt, British Columbians deserves a credible 70 year plan to maximize benefits.

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  • toni stanick
    followed this page 2017-12-18 11:04:42 -0800
  • Ion Del Sol
    commented 2017-12-18 10:48:27 -0800
    The Greens know that they can call for a referendum, but they won’t do it.
    It would look good on them, and their support would multiply on the next election.

    But if the Greens don’t do it, what good is it to shift representatives for one party to another, as proportional representation wants?
  • Bob Reckhow
    commented 2017-12-17 18:15:00 -0800 Flag
    I like the idea of getting enough signatures to trigger a plebiscite on Site C. That would give the NDP an opportunity to change their position without losing face.

    To Sjeng Derkx: Alberta’s wind projects have a per-kilowatt cost that is only about 20% of the per-kilowatt cost of Site C. The amount of power to be generated by Alberta’s current projects is about half the total amount of power that Site C will generate. The amount of government funding for Alberta’s project is about $1billion. The expectation is that Site C will be paid for by hydro consumers, amortized at low bond rates over 70 years. Hydro and wind power have different characteristics with respect to availability and responsiveness to moment-to-moment fluctuations in the demand for power, so it becomes complicated and confusing if you try to compare them directly. The recent Alberta announcement does demonstrate, however, that wind power is a very real and very cost-effective alternative in the power generation mix. This lends weight to the assertion that Site C is not needed, and that better, cheaper, more modular and localized alternatives are available to meet BC’s power needs as they develop over time. Building one huge megaproject like Site C is like putting all of your eggs in one huge basket that is full of holes. Better to have a supply of smaller, sturdier baskets of different types, to carry your eggs as the hens lay them. ( … to stretch a metaphor way too far …. )
  • Ion Del Sol
    commented 2017-12-17 14:51:36 -0800
    If people are willing to canvas for 10% signatures of voters to trigger a plebiscite, we have some hope.

    Otherwise, we will be complaining until the project is completed and beyond.
  • George Milligan
    followed this page 2017-12-17 14:49:06 -0800
  • Robert Roy
    commented 2017-12-17 14:30:56 -0800
    It’s a supply and confidence agreement, the BC Greens and the NDP, not a coalition. The Greens still sit in opposition to the government. The agreement is not to bring down the government over motions of confidence.
  • Sjeng Derkx
    commented 2017-12-17 13:53:50 -0800
    I do not understand this sentence: “Meanwhile on Wednesday in Alberta, the equivalent of half of Site C’s capacity was auctioned off for wind projects at more than half of Site C’s cost of production.” If Alberta’s windpower projects produce half the amount of power at more than half the production cost, doesn’t that mean that site C produces power more cheaply than wind? Please clarify.
  • Amy Meyer
    commented 2017-12-17 13:40:09 -0800
    If it’s not ‘ours’… ‘we’ shouldn’t have to pay for it. Whomever reaping the benefits outta pay – let’s hope the govt has the balz to may em pay for both the electricity and the water !
  • Josephine Munro
    followed this page 2017-12-17 13:14:14 -0800
  • Jordan Ellis
    commented 2017-12-17 13:02:12 -0800
    Just an alternative thought…
    It’s not about Site C at all.
    The 3 big priority projects for B.C., in order, are 1) Prop Rep; 2) KM pipeline; 3) Site C.
    The feds (& Alta, etc) are committed to KM as #1. NDP and Greens both have committed to “over my dead body” for both.
    They never promised “No Site C” as strongly.
    So: Horgan is throwing Site C away to build bargaining capital to be used in the “NO> KM; YES > Prop Rep. duo.
    Especially, the feds only care about KM (”in Canada’s best national interests…" ((to hell with B.C . and their piddly voting system)) so he might well give up Prop Rep as a chip to insure NO KM.
  • Bob Reckhow
    commented 2017-12-17 11:59:58 -0800
    An additional step we can take right now is to support the Peace region’s PVLA & PVEA in their appeal to the BC Auditor General:
  • Mary Sherlock
    followed this page 2017-12-17 11:53:41 -0800
  • Bob Reckhow
    followed this page 2017-12-17 11:49:13 -0800
  • Hilary Jones
    commented 2017-12-17 11:41:13 -0800
    I am very disappointed that the Green Party is not standing up for our principles. This decision should be a deal breaker for the coalition. I feel betrayed by both parties.
  • Jacobus Bakker
    commented 2017-12-16 17:28:53 -0800
    In a REAL coalition with the NDP our Green Party could have set stopping Site C as a condition. When Horgan was forming his NDP government that is what I advised you to do but you ignored my advise and now you are trying to make us believe how upset you are about this. By the way, remember when B.C. Hydro used to sell power to California, they refused to pay our bill.
  • Jacobus Bakker
    commented 2017-12-16 17:24:33 -0800
    The Green Party has to allow this minority government to fall asap, so the people can decide in an election if they want to go into a huge debt for a mad not needed project. Combine an election with a referendum and than form a real coalition.
  • Jacobus Bakker
    commented 2017-12-16 17:22:10 -0800
    Sorry Mr. Weaver but you have lost my trust and I am a member of your party and also an engineer. I only found out from you a few days ago that stopping Site C was not a condition for your support of this minority government. You have ignored this on purpose or have been sleeping at the wheel, or both.
  • Robert Stupka
    published this page in Latest updates 2017-12-15 15:50:22 -0800
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