(1) 250.472.8528
andrew.weaver.mla@leg.bc.ca

Over the last few weeks Sonia Furstenau, Adam Olsen and I have tried to provide as much evidence as possible to make the case for cancelling the fiscally-reckless Site C megaproject. In fact, since I first raised the fiscal folly of moving forward with Site C in 2013, the case has become much, much stronger culminating in the British Columbia Utilities Commission report released on November 1, 2017.

In question period I’ve contrasted the escalating costs of Site C to the diminishing costs of renewables and noted the parallels with the controversial Muskrat Falls megaproject in Newfoundland and Labrador. I’ve pointed out that Site C was approved as a ratepayer funded subsidy to a non existent LNG industry. I’ve asked why the Columbia River Entitlement and distributed renewable projects have not been explored. And my BC Green colleagues have asked many more questions as well.

With the rising of the legislature last Thursday and ahead of an imminent decision regarding the fate of Site C, my caucus colleagues and I felt it was important to summarize our case against the project in an open letter that we sent to Premier Horgan. Below I reproduce a text of that letter.


Text of Open Letter


December 1, 2017
Premier John Horgan
Office of the Premier
Parliament Buildings, B.C. Legislature
Victoria, B.C.
V8V 1X4

cc: Hon. Michelle Mungall
Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources
Dear Premier Horgan,

As we near cabinet’s decision on Site C, we write to you today to urge you to stop construction of the Site C dam.

Our Confidence and Supply Agreement committed government to sending Site C to the BC Utilities Commission (BCUC), BC’s independent regulatory agency, for an independent review of the project. In undertaking this review, the BCUC marshalled significant evidence and undertook an analysis of the implications of pursuing completion, suspension, and termination scenarios; the implications for ratepayers of different scenarios; and the potential for a portfolio of alternative sources of energy to meet demand.

The resulting report was comprehensive and provided a strong, evidence-based rationale for cancelling Site C. This rationale is founded in a number of key findings presented in the report, including:

  1. Site C is already over budget, and is beset by considerable risks of further costly overruns and delays;
  2. An alternative portfolio can meet future demand requirements, at the same or lower prices than Site C.

The BC Green Caucus believes that the findings of the report more than make the case that the best course of action for government is to cancel the project, remediate the land and begin the work of developing a 21st century energy system based on options presented in the alternative portfolio.

This argument is laid out in greater detail below.

Costs and risks of Site C

The estimated cost of Site C has escalated throughout its lifespan. Just last month, when the river diversion deadline was missed, the cost increased again from $8.3 to $8.9 billion, accompanying a year-long delay to the construction schedule.

It was therefore unsurprising to see the BCUC Panel determine that Site C will be behind schedule and substantially over budget. In the BCUC Panel’s words, “given the nature of this type of project and what has occurred to date, total costs for the project may be in excess of $10 billion and there are significant risks that could lead to further budget overruns”. The Panel found that these remaining risks include unresolved tension cracks and disputes with contractors. As such, the Panel found that it is unlikely that Site C will be completed on schedule by 2024, and even that construction costs could escalate even further beyond $10 billion.

This cost escalation is significant, and will have substantial impacts on British Columbia ratepayers. Given that we are only 2 years into what is supposed to be a 9-year construction project, we are gravely concerned about the impact on British Columbians of further expected delays and cost overruns.

As cabinet makes its decision, we hope they will also heed the lessons learned from another large-scale dam under construction, Muskrat Falls, in Newfoundland and Labrador. When the Muskrat Falls Project was sanctioned, it was estimated to cost $6.2 billion plus financing. The costs have since ballooned to more than $12 billion. The impact of this cost increase on rates in Newfoundland is profound. Nalcor Hydro now estimates that costs from the Muskrat Falls dam will result in rates almost doubling.

The lessons from this project are significant and relevant. Just last week the Newfoundland and Labrador government initiated a public inquiry into what happened with Muskrat Falls. Richard LeBlanc, the provincial Supreme Court judge leading the independent inquiry, has said “while we cannot undo the past we can learn from it”. While it may have been too late for their government to cancel their project, it is not too late for BC. We hope this government heeds his words and chooses a different path.

The potential of alternatives to meet demand

As part of its review, the BCUC was also mandated to analyze the ability of an alternative portfolio of commercially feasible projects and demand-side initiatives to provide similar energy benefits to Site C, including their potential to meet demand and their costs to ratepayers.

The Panel found that not only could an alternative portfolio of conservation, wind energy, and geothermal energy meet demand and provide similar benefits to ratepayers as Site C, but that it could do so with an equal or lower unit energy cost.

In addition to recognizing the current viability of alternative energy in BC, the Panel found that disruptive trends in technology pose one of the most significant risks to continuing with Site C. Evidence from around the world substantiates the Panel’s warning about technological trends. Prices for wind, solar, and

geothermal energy have plummeted year by year. The pace and scope of technological advance have exceeded even the most optimistic predictions.

Instead of locking ourselves into the path of the Site C Dam, we should seize this opportunity to build clean, distributed power that puts us on the cutting edge of innovation, and provides jobs and benefits to local communities.

In addition, though beyond the scope of the BCUC review, it is critically important that government also consider the impacts that this project has on First Nations, particularly in light of our collective commitment to implementing UNDRIP. Government must also consider the project’s impact on the environment of the Peace River valley. Through pursuing an alternative energy portfolio instead of Site C, BC can partner with First Nations, industry and local communities to build clean, distributed power across BC. These alternatives will employ more people than Site C and provide local jobs and benefits to local communities.

In the face of these developments, it would be irresponsible for government to continue down the path of Site C. We do not require Site C to meet our future energy needs – alternative sources of energy are more than able to meet demand, and they will enable us to adapt to changing needs, as they provide flexible sources of energy. In contrast, Site C locks us into an energy future that could impose significant burdens on future ratepayers, and we would be forced to sell any surplus power at a loss.

Final considerations

Laid out in front of this government is a choice. The previous government chose to forgo evidence and due diligence, and pushed forward irresponsibly with a project that it is clear should never have been started. What the BCUC report tells us is that it is not too late to correct this mistake.

However, the choice facing your government is not simply about which option will save ratepayers the most money. It’s a choice about what type of province we want to build. All around the world jurisdictions are embracing a modern, 21st century approach to energy policy. Pursuing this future would see the creation of a distributed, integrated power grid where the economic and employment benefits are shared by communities throughout the province.

Site C puts this future further out of reach, doubling down on the energy projects of the last century and undermining our ability to embrace the future.

We hope, as cabinet considers this decision, that they properly weigh this information contained within the BCUC report. Your government made the right decision in agreeing to commission an independent review before we crossed the point of no return. You need now to be guided by the evidence that this report puts forward.

This government has an opportunity to undo the mistakes of the last administration and chart a new, modern path for energy policy in BC. We hope you will seize this opportunity.

 

Sincerely,

Andrew Weaver
Leader, B.C. Green Party
MLA, Oak Bay-Gordon head

Sonia Furstenau
MLA, Cowichan Valley

Adam Olsen
MLA, Saanich North & the Islands

The Letter


Media Release


B.C. Greens make the case for cancelling Site C in open letter to government
For immediate release
December 1, 2017

VICTORIA, B.C. – B.C. Green MLAs Andrew Weaver, Sonia Furstenau and Adam Olsen sent an open letter today to Premier Horgan and Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources Michelle Mungall making the case for cancelling Site C.

The B.C. Greens have been opposed to Site C since costs begun to escalate well past its initial budget, while the global cost of alternative energy has continued to fall.

The letter is attached.

-30-

Media contact
Sarah Miller, Acting Press Secretary
+1 778-650-0597 | sarah.miller@leg.bc.ca

5 Comments

  1. Frank Ambler-Reply
    December 5, 2017 at 11:24 am

    Keep Canada strong…. And let B.C get back to work… site c And the other power dams in this province are the infrastructure that keeps us rich….
    I have first hand knowledge of solar powered homes… or should I say generator powered homes with soar back up…. It is very disappointing
    Too bad the tides organization and others want Canada and more specific B.C broke
    Soon they will buy us all…cheaply

  2. Douglas Gook-Reply
    December 5, 2017 at 10:23 am

    Hear! Hear!

    Steps have been taken to reroute the last century BC Hydro/Liberals deadend ‘freeway’ path to another dam and decades of ever increasing hydro bills to pay for their madness. Get rid of the Hummer and let your hair fly with your bike as it’s time to cruise with the energy solution that rises every morning!!!

    Everyone with a roof and south facing wall could feed the grid and see their hydro bills turn towards cheques for the power that the sun sends them. The community based jobs coming from this solutions shift are enormous and they promote social strength instead of the MMIW and social disfunction that work camp ghettos create.

    The Site C white elephant turned on Christy and dealt with her. If the NDP goes ahead with this, they too will have to deal with packaderm rath.

    May The Forests And Wild Salmon Be With You,
    douglas gook

  3. Len Wagner-Reply
    December 4, 2017 at 8:50 pm

    Thank you for writing this letter..
    I sent emails last week to the premier (2 at different addresses)
    As well as one to environment minister.
    Both asking to cancel site C
    In the environment ministers letter I asked him to cancel site C and build a couple of Pyrolysis plants instead…this would be a great first step to stop the land application of toxic sewage sludge…
    We are poisoning the very thing we depend on for life…our environment.
    Our children and grandchildren as well as all the future generations are depending on us to provide them with a livable earth…
    We are not being very reliable at this point as corporations and complicit government are putting profits and power before life and love.
    I had hoped that the kicking of the wicked witch of the west to the curb would remove that complicit government at least at a provincial level because the federal government has been reminder enough that you can’t change the spots on a leopard.
    No I did not vote for those less than honest liberals
    Thanks for your considerable effort in changing what is wrong with our world??
    I will continue to shout it from the rooftops(figuratively)
    Time to wake up and smell the feces…
    Thanks
    Len Wagner

  4. December 4, 2017 at 4:55 pm

    Arthur Anderson and Associates were the accounting firm that masterminded the Enron scam. At that same time PowerEx ,the export wing of BC Hydro was caught price fixing with other power suppliers in California. Enron was in the middle of that too. After Enron imploded Arthur Anderson morphed into a company called Accenture. Accenture took over the administration of BC Hydro and immediately began using deferral accounting ,the same type of accounting that destroyed Enron. There might be something in this brief history that might shape your approach to things.

    Good you are talking about the Columbia River . Some dams need very little to get more turbines turning. More savings there than are being talked about by the BCUC or the NDP.

    Clean distributed power sources may not be as clean as you would like and the profits of Run of River Generators are not distributed.These contracts will bankrupt our province. I think it is time that someone takes this stand for BCers.

    The loss of this lands agricultural potential can not be overstated.
    Neglecting to feature the concerns around sovereignty of first nations may be a good safe short term strategy ,however BCers are looking for more now from our leaders.There is lots of good language you could borrow to help sooth the concerns of the colonial settlers.while allowing our native brothers and sisters a place in the conversation.

    A combination of solar or wind power sources used concomitantly with hydro power is the best solution.

    Energy efficiency and improved heating technology like heat pumps are cheap and easy to implement especially with government incentives.

    • Karen Goodings-Reply
      December 5, 2017 at 7:49 pm

      Hear Hear!!

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