It was inevitable that the BC Greens, mid leadership contest, would turn against themselves and what they signed up for by agreeing to the CASA deal that ousted the 16 year BC Liberal government in 2017.
Where we’re at is watching the Greens pick apart SiteC, the northern dam being constructed along the Peace River; on costs.
No consideration have been made for the Green Party’s support for ‘run-of-the-river’ projects and their equivalently problematic risks to the environment.
Run of the river and the IPP contracts foisted upon rate-payers are a scandal that will cost BC dearly for decades to come.
The hill to die on for the Greens was apparently the notion of ‘card check’ unionization, meaning that if a majority of workers in a bargaining unit signed union membership cards, the certification would be granted. An idea supported by former Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders.
In the terms of the CASA arrangement, SiteC was to be examined by the BC Utilities Commission and they would submit a report on its viability.
Remember that on the left, it was highly unpopular among the activist class to build such a monolith on the Peace River as it threatened viable agricultural land, ran afoul of area First Nations, was very expensive (and likely to run well over its budget), and questions raised on the need for such a project.
But, opinion wasn’t unanimous. In fact, yours truly wrote an opinion piece shortly after the approval ‘to continue’ with the dam. I wasn’t on board either, and its still makes me grumpy.
But things have changed.
- Its not getting any cheaper, and such a project is mired in construction complications; moving a river is no small feat of engineering.
- Its still compromising to some productive agricultural land.
- A deal has been struck with one of the area First Nations, that while it doesn’t imply an endorsement, takes an important step to reconciliation missing from the initial planning of the dam.
- Major investment initiatives and subsidies to encourage more electric vehicle purchases, requiring more hydro usage.
- Vaunted massive alternative energy generation do not yet exist in numbers needed to offset a cancellation of SiteC, and will likely have serious cost implications akin to IPP’s and the run-of-the-river projects they link to.
While its true that there a relatively slow demand increase of hydro, it still does increase. Wouldn’t a dramatic increase in supply guarantee lower prices and safeguard supply? Of course it would. Especially not being bound as much to seasonally useless supply spikes created by RotR projects.
The problems with BC Hydro aren’t exclusive to SiteC. Last decade’s tinkering of the operations of BC Hydro by the BC Liberals did serious damage to the viability of the Crown Corporation. By forcing the utility to borrow money to give to the government in the form of ‘dividends’ while deferring this racked up debt along side the red ink drawn up in building SiteC.
SiteC still makes me grumpy, but given the time to think this over, the project might win me over too.
And I’m not alone either. When it was announced that SiteC was to continue, a major polling firm conducted a survey to gauge opinion in BC. What it found was stunning. That BC Liberal supporters were overwhelmingly in favour of completing SiteC was not surprising, learning that a plurality of NDP *and* Green voters did too – well that took my breath away.
The project was hotly debated in the 2017 BC Election with the Greens vowing to halt the dam, the NDP promising to have it examined by the BCUC and the Liberals would finish the dam without delay. When the ballots were counted and the BC Liberals were only two seats ahead of the NDP and in a minority government, the Greens had every opportunity to make a deal with whomever they wanted.
They sided with the NDP and the ensuing CASA deal that ensured the parliamentary survival of the newly formed NDP minority government on confidence matters (such as a budget or certain legislative initiatives. Scrapping the dam was not part of the deal.
So its strikes me as odd that now, in the middle of a BC Green Party leadership contest that SiteC has come up and they’re targeting the NDP will all their rage at the continuation of the dam construction…and they’re citing costs.
Ok. Costs are going to suck, I’ll grant you that. So lets talk about the costs of halting the project and tearing it down. If you drop $15 billion on the project, then add another $5 billion to remove it, you have a $20 billion monument to stupidity.
What about contract cancellation fees? There’s got to be billions extra in unknown costs that would be charged up – or sued out of the provincial government for such an idiotic choice. A choice still being pushed by the Greens I might add.
Look, we’re into an era of extraordinary costs brought on by covid19 based delays and business shut downs; tens of thousands of people are still without work as the economy slowly restarts. These unforeseen events will add billions of dollars in debt to the provincial books; everyone knows this.
But in the era of ‘lets get through this’ (together), cancelling a major energy infrastructure project will unnecessarily throw 3-4 thousand workers out of their jobs and add billions of dollars of new debt to the books without any assets or new revenue to pay for it.
You don’t have to like SiteC to support it. I don’t. But, lets get it done and add it to our supply matrix for energy and be done with it. Finishing the dam doesn’t mean you can’t explore other ways to produce more renewable energy, but it means that we have to do this better.
We still have time. Do we have the will?