B.C. Utilities Commission

Geothermal Would Create 15 Times More Permanent Jobs Than Site C, Panel Told As BCUC Hearings Draw to Close

geothermal National Renewable Energy Lab

Opportunities provided by 21st century renewables, such as geothermal, wind and solar, have either been ignored or the costs over-inflated in BC Hydro documents justifying construction of the Site C dam, the B.C. Utilities Commission Site C Panel was told by presenters during two days of technical briefings.

Speaker after speaker pinpointed holes and inaccuracies in BC Hydro’s math, claiming the bottom line was skewed in favour of building the $8.8-billion dollar dam on the Peace River.

Geothermal power projects are thriving in Oregon and Idaho and the geology does not instantly change at the B.C. border, said Alison Thompson, chair of the Canadian Geothermal Energy Association (CanGEA), pointing to the number of hot springs and drilled natural gas wells in the province, which indicate the presence of geothermal resources.

So, how much has BC Hydro spent in the last 15 years in exploratory drilling for geothermal resources?” she asked.

Site C Dam Set to Finally Undergo Review of Costs and Demand

Horgan Weaver NDP-Green Agreement Site C

The controversial $9 billion Site C dam project will be sent for immediate review with the B.C. Utilities Commission if NDP Leader John Horgan becomes B.C.’s premier, according to a landmark agreement between the NDP and Greens.

The agreement outlines the terms of a power-sharing agreement as well as a path forward on key election issues, including the future of the Site C dam.

The agreement sets out a requirement to “immediately refer the Site C construction project to the B.C. Utilities Commission” to investigate the economic viability and consequences of the project for British Columbians.

During the election campaign the Greens vowed to stop the Site C project outright while the NDP committed to send the project for independent review by the B.C. Utilities Commission, a body designed to regulate BC Hydro and electricity rates. The B.C. Liberals exempted Site C from utilities commission scrutiny.

EXCLUSIVE: Site C Dam ‘Devastating’ for British Columbians, Says Former CEO of BC Hydro

Site C dam flood reserve level

In an exclusive interview with DeSmog Canada, former BC Hydro CEO Marc Eliesen says ratepayers will face a “devastating” increase in their electricity bills if the Site C dam is built and emphasizes there is no rush to build new sources of power generation in B.C.

With Site C, BC Hydro ratepayers will be facing a devastating increase of anywhere between 30 and 40 per cent over the next three years,” Eliesen told DeSmog Canada in his first interview on the subject.

There’s no rush. There’s no immediate need for Site C or any other alternative energy,” he said.

Eliesen’s comment about the lack of immediate need for the power echoes statements made by Harry Swain, the chair of the panel that reviewed the Site C hydro dam for the provincial and federal governments. In March, Swain told DeSmog Canada the B.C. government should have held off on making a decision on the dam.

Permits to Start Construction on Site C Dam Issued Despite Pending Lawsuits

Peace River

Authorizations allowing construction to begin immediately on the Site C dam on the Peace River in northeastern B.C. were issued on Tuesday by B.C.’s Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations — despite a pending legal challenge by the Treaty 8 First Nations.

This Saturday, hundreds of people in canoes and kayaks will paddle down the Peace River to protest the imminent construction of the dam and flooding of the river.

The $8.8 billion Site C dam — the most expensive public project in B.C. history — was approved by the B.C. government in December. If built, the dam will flood more than 100 kilometres of the Peace River and its tributaries, drowning agricultural land that experts say could produce fruit and vegetables for one million people.

Since the government’s decision to move forward with the project, expert voices have come out of the woodwork to speak out against the project.

‘Unprecedented’ Comments from Chair of Site C Dam Panel Raised in B.C. Question Period

Site C dam

Revelations from DeSmog Canada’s exclusive sit-down interview with Harry Swain, the chair of the panel that reviewed the $8.8 billion Site C dam, were raised during question period in the B.C. legislature on Thursday.

Andrew Weaver, Oak Bay-Gordon Head MLA and Deputy Leader of the B.C. Green Party, asked the government about the economics of the Site C dam project in light of Swain’s unprecedented interview.

Swain, a former Deputy Minister of Industry Canada and Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, is thought to be the first review panel member in Canadian history to speak out about a project in this manner. His comments to DeSmog Canada prompted follow-up by the Globe and Mail, CBC, CKNW and CFAX.

Mr. Swain was very clear that the government was rushed in approving Site C, and British Columbians will pay for their haste,” Weaver said during question period. “As Mr. Swain said: ‘Wisdom would have been waiting for two, three, four years to see whether the projections they’ — that’s BC Hydro — ‘were making had any basis in fact.’ That’s not exactly a glowing endorsement for the fiscal underpinning of Site C.”

‘Dereliction of Duty’: Chair of Site C Panel on B.C.’s Failure to Investigate Alternatives to Mega Dam

Harry Swain, chair of Site C panel

Part 1 of DeSmog Canada’s exclusive sit-down interview with Harry Swain, the man who chaired the panel tasked with reviewing BC Hydro’s Site C dam, sparked a firestorm of activity on Tuesday.

Energy Minister Bill Bennett responded to Swain’s critique in the Globe and Mail, the B.C. NDP issued a statement on Swain’s comments and an environmental law expert called the statements “unprecedented.”

Martin Olszynski, an assistant professor in the Faculty of Law at the University of Calgary, said Swain’s comments are extremely rare.  

To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time that a panel member has spoken about a previous report in this manner,” Olszynski, an expert in environmental assessment, said. “To my knowledge, it’s unprecedented.”

EXCLUSIVE: B.C. Government Should Have Deferred Site C Dam Decision, Says Chair of Joint Review Panel

Peace Valley Site C Dam

In his first interview on the Site C dam, the chair of the federal-provincial panel appointed to review Canada's largest current infrastructure project said the B.C. government was unwise to green-light the project without a review by the B.C. Utilities Commission and would have been better off to delay the decision by a few years.

There’s a whole bunch of unanswered questions, some of which would be markedly advanced by waiting three or four years,” Harry Swain told DeSmog Canada. “And you’d still be within the period of time, even by Hydro’s bullish forecasts, when you’re going to need the juice.”

Swain, a former deputy minister of Industry Canada and Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, spoke to DeSmog Canada on his own behalf, not on behalf of the panel. In a wide-reaching interview, Swain also described the province’s failure to investigate alternatives to the dam as a “dereliction of duty.”

Geothermal Offers Cheaper, Cleaner Alternative to Site C Dam: New Report

Alison Thompson

Geothermal energy offers a low-cost, clean and viable alternative to the $8 billion Site C dam proposed for the Peace River, according to a new report released Tuesday by the Canadian Geothermal Energy Association (CanGEA)

The report, Geothermal Energy: The Renewable and Cost Effective Alternative to Site C, estimates that geothermal power would ring in at about $73 per megawatt-hour (MWh). BC Hydro has estimated the cost of Site C at $83 per MWh. The report also says the proposed geothermal plants could be built for approximately $3.3 billion, less than half the cost of the Site C dam.

Geothermal can be built as you need it, where you need it, and the capital costs are much lower,” CanGEA Chair Alison Thompson told a press conference in Victoria.

Peace Valley Landowners Take B.C. Government to Court Over Site C Dam Economics

Ken Boon

The Peace Valley Landowner Association has served a petition for judicial review asking the B.C. Supreme Court to quash the provincial environmental assessment certificate granted Oct. 14 to BC Hydro to build the $8 billion Site C dam.

Lawyer Maegan Giltrow says that in granting the environmental certificate, the ministers of Environment and of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations failed to consider the joint review panel’s assessment of the economics of the Site C project.

Not only was the joint review panel required by law to make recommendations about cost … but the ministers were bound by law to consider those recommendations,” Giltrow said. “This goes to the core of whether the certificate should be issued.”

Assessing the economic impacts of the project was explicitly included in the scope of the joint review panel’s review, but the province ignored the panel’s recommendations on that topic, stating they were outside of the panel’s scope.

These are not questions for another time,” Giltrow said. “Before granting the certificate, the ministers were bound to consider and weigh the whole picture.”

Five Reasons B.C. Should Say No to the Site C Dam

Site C dam

A recent poll found only six in 10 British Columbians have heard of BC Hydro’s $8 billion proposal to build a third hydroelectric dam on the Peace River.

But the decision about whether to build the Site C dam will directly affect all of us — from the implications for our electricity bills to the flooding of some of B.C.'s best agricultural land.

After more than 30 years on the books, the provincial and federal governments are expected to decide on the project by Oct. 22..

I only want to build Site C if it makes the most sense for the people of the province,” B.C.’s Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett told the Vancouver Sun on Sept. 10.

So, does Site C make sense for the people of B.C.?

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