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Response to Premier Clark’s Site C Letter

Today I received a letter from Premier Clark in which she requested I respond to questions regarding the construction of the Site C Dam.

Premier Clark’s letter follows one sent last week by John Horgan, leader of the B.C. NDP, to Jessica McDonald, President and CEO of B.C. Hydro, requesting the delay of the destruction of two homes pending future review of the Site C Dam by the B.C. Utilities Commission.

Last week, I signed a Confidence and Supply Agreement, indicating that the B.C. Green Caucus would support confidence and supply measures introduced by a potential B.C. NDP minority government. As part of the agreement, both parties agreed that the Site C Dam construction project should be referred to the BC Utilities Commission on the question of economic viability and consequences to British Columbians in the context of the current supply and demand conditions prevailing in the B.C. market. The B.C. Liberal government chose not to put the dam to independent evaluation by the BCUC before moving forward with the project.

Below is a copy of the letter that I sent back to Premier Clark.


June 6, 2017

The Honourable Christy Clark
Premier of British Columbia
West Annex
Parliament Buildings
Victoria, BC  V8V 1X4

 

Dear Premier Clark,

Thank you for your letter in response to Mr. Horgan’s request to delay the relocation of two homes pending future review of the Site C Dam by the BC Utilities Commission.

While I was neither privy to, nor involved in, writing Mr. Horgan’s letter to Ms. McDonald, you will know that for four years I have raised significant and substantive concerns regarding the economics of the Site C project.

Your government has chosen to proceed with the costliest public works project in BC history without adequately analysing its economic viability. Even the chair of the Federal-Provincial Joint Review Panel that reviewed the Site C Dam, Dr. Harry Swain, has criticised the process for not sufficiently evaluating the project’s economic case. In the face of these significant concerns, and despite numerous calls for an independent review by the BC Utilities Commissions, you are about to apparently move the project to the “point of no return”.

Please let me express my disappointment in how your government is choosing to proceed with this project. Your government is turning a significant capital project that potentially poses massive economic risks to British Columbians, into a political debate rather than one informed by evidence and supported by independent analysis.

Your letter asserts that delaying the relocation of two homes will cost BC Hydro ratepayers an estimated $600 million due to the project delay. You further request an indication of my position on the matter.

Before I can comment on these assertions, I require access to the supporting evidence, including but not limited to the signed contracts, the project schedule and the potential alternative project timelines that could allow an independent review to be conducted at minimal cost to the ratepayer.

 In addition, I would need briefing notes on the status of existing delays including those associated with the stability of the north bank as well as the acquisition of and compliance with any environmental permits.

I would be pleased to answer your questions on the assumption that the information requested will be forthcoming in a timely manner.

Best wishes,
Dr. Andrew Weaver, OBC, FRSC
Leader, BC Green Party

Not too late to change course on Site C dam

Since becoming an MLA I have visited the proposed location of the Site C dam on the Peace River twice. Most recently, on Aug. 23, I travelled a section of the river with a group of concerned community members. It’s hard to fathom the scale of planned development unless you see it in person, just as it’s hard to grasp the human and cultural cost of this project until you listen to the people caught in the middle of it.

Dam construction would flood more than 5,000 hectares of land – drowning homes, traditional lands, scores of culturally important sites, and 15,985 acres of agricultural land.

Local and indigenous people in the area are being systematically stripped of their livelihood and culture by one arm of government, while receiving apologies for past injustices and promises of reconciliation from another.

Compounding the environmental, historical, cultural and agricultural damages is a reckless disregard of energy economics.

Since 2005, domestic demand for electricity in B.C. has been essentially flat, but over the next 20 years BC Hydro forecasts our energy needs will increase by about 40 per cent as a consequence of both population and economic growth. They are selling Site C as the solution to this growing electricity demand, but their argument doesn’t hold water.

Upon completion, the dam would produce 1,100 MW (megawatts, i.e. millions of Watts) of power capacity and up to 5,100 GWh (gigawatt hours, i.e. billions of watt hours) of electricity each year.

Currently only about 1.5 per cent of B.C.’s electricity production is supplied by wind energy (compared to roughly 20 per cent in P.E.I.). With our mountainous terrain and coastal boundary, the potential for both onshore and offshore wind power production is enormous. The Canadian Wind Energy Association and the BC Hydro Integrated Resource Plan 2013 indicate that 5,100 GWh of wind-generated electricity could be produced in B.C. for about the same price as the electricity to be produced by the Site C dam.

A report by the Canadian Geothermal Energy Association noted B.C. also has substantial untapped potential for firm, on demand, geothermal power which could be developed where power is needed.

While costs associated with Site C will be borne by provincial taxpayers (a price tag that will eventually be much more than BC Hydro’s estimate of roughly $9 billion), solar, wind and geothermal project risks are covered by industry.  Alternative sources coupled with existing dams could provide enough energy to meet the needs of British Columbians, with the potential to scale up as needed. They would also provide better economic opportunities to local communities and First Nations across the province, with lower impacts on traditional territories.

Instead of a diversified approach to renewable energy, the B.C. government is pushing Site C because they want to offer LNG proponents access to firm power. As I have been explaining for years, however, there will be no B.C. LNG industry in the foreseeable future because of a global glut in natural gas and plummeting prices for imported LNG in Asia. As the government desperately doubles down on LNG, renewable projects are moving elsewhere. Just this year they let a $750 million US investment to build wind capacity on Vancouver Island slip away, despite buy-in from five First Nations, TimberWest, EDP Renewables and the Canadian Wind Energy Association.

I wanted to see how much has been done when I visited Site C this summer. Nothing has passed a point of no return. Proceeding with Site C is actively driving clean energy investment out of the province, but it is not too late to correct our province’s power trajectory.

Climate Action Announcement Definitely Not Leadership

Media Statement – August 19, 2016
Climate Action Announcement Definitely Not Leadership
For immediate release

Victoria B.C. – Andrew Weaver, MLA for Oak Bay – Gordon Head and leader of the B.C. Green Party calls the B.C. Government Climate Action announcement disappointing and lacking leadership.

“Not only has the Clark government dismantled many of the existing climate policies, but they are also ignoring key recommendations from their own expert panel on what needs to happen for B.C. to once again become a climate leader.

“For the past few years it has become painfully clear that the B.C. Liberals have chosen to forgo any leadership on this file, instead choosing to chase the LNG pipedream.

“As we go into another year with temperature records again being smashed across the world and in B.C., this government is content to fiddle and play games with carbon accounting. Without increasing the carbon levy there is no hope that British Columbia will meet its GHG reduction targets.

“For fifteenth consecutive month in a row, July 2016 emerged as the warmest month since measurements have been collected. Average global temperatures for the year-to-date period January-July 2016 shattered the previous record set in 2015. The government’s plan doesn’t demonstrate leadership. It demonstrates complacency and a wilful disregard of the urgency of dealing with climate change.

“British Columbia has an opportunity to become a leader in this world, establishing a 21st century economy built on innovation and clean technology. This goal cannot be realized with the current administration’s directionless approach to governance.

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Backgrounder – Changes since Christy Clark became Premier

Under Premier Gordon Campbell, British Columbia emerged as an international leader in climate policy. But since Christy Clark has taken over at the helm, we’ve move from being a leader to becoming a laggard. The legacy of Premier Clark’s so-called climate leadership to date is as follows:

  1. The Clean Energy Act was amended to exclude emissions for liquefaction in LNG industry;
  2. The Pacific Carbon Trust was shut down;
  3. Carbon tax increase were halted;
  4. Cap and Trade enabling legislation (designed to bring big point source emitters in with California) has been repealed;
  5. We have a new Greenhouse Gas Industrial Reporting and Control Act that introduces an “emissions intensity” framework that is more about supporting an LNG industry than limiting emissions;
  6. The LiveSmart BC program has essentially shut down;
  7. Emissions have gone up year after year;
  8. We will not reach our legislated 2020 GHG reduction target.

Media contact
Mat Wright – Press Secretary, Andrew Weaver MLA
1 250 216 3382
mat.wright@leg.bc.ca

Eleven Days & Counting: Hunger Strike Against Site C

IMG_20160323_122727Today I was in Vancouver meeting with a number of business leaders in British Columbia’s creative economy. My colleague Matt Toner (Deputy Leader of the BC Green Party) and I took the opportunity to visit with opponents of the proposed Site C dam who were camped out in front of BC Hydro’s downtown Vancouver headquarters.  It quickly became apparent to me that what is happening there qualifies as perhaps the most under-reported story of 2016.

Those who have been following my work over the last few years will know that I have frequently spoken out against the reckless disregard of energy economics exhibited by the BC Liberals.

IMG_20160323_122610Whether it be the fiscal folly of moving forward with Site C, the risking of British Columbia’s triple-A credit rating, or the lost opportunities arising from proceeding with Site C (including geothermal or wind), I have been arguing for almost three years now that proceeding with Site C makes no economic sense.

Let’s be clear. The BC Liberals are moving forward with the construction of the Site C dam exclusively because they want to ensure that LNG proponents have access to firm power so that they might use electricity-driven compressors in their liquefaction process (the so-called “cleanest LNG in the world”). For example, on November 4, 2014, BC Hydro and LNG Canada signed a power agreement that ensured taxpayer-subsidized power for the LNG industry in BC. But of course, as I have been pointing out for more than three years now, there will be no LNG industry anytime soon in BC due to the global glut in natural gas and plummeting prices for landed LNG in Asia.

HC_HungerStrike9As the BC Government strives to “Get to Yes” on an electricity generation project that no longer has any buyers, they have turned to Alberta. Yet Alberta has said they are not interested in buying BC’s excess electricity and the Trudeau government pointedly excluded funding for BC-to-Alberta transmission line infrastructure in the 2016 budget.

While the shenanigans of our political leaders in British Columbia play out, a remarkable young woman, Kristen Henry, has stepped up to draw attention to the negative consequences of moving forward with Site C.

HC_HungerStrike4

I had the distinct honour of meeting with Kristin today. Kristin is in the 11th day of a hunger strike against the Site C dam. Stop and think about this for a minute. Can you imagine eleven days without food? Have you heard about this in the local media? I suspect not.

Kristin is an articulate, passionate and highly educated young woman who has literally put her life on the line in an attempt to draw attention to the reckless folly of proceeding with Site C.  She is extremely concerned about Site C’s violation of indigenous treaty rights, its effect on food security, and its reckless economics. While the mainstream media may not have drawn attention to her remarkable achievements, rest assured, her efforts have had a profound impact on me.

HC_HungerStrike6    HC_HungerStrike7

Calling for a halt to Site C activities

Media Release: February 18, 2016
Andrew Weaver calls for a halt to Site C activities
For Immediate Release

Victoria, B.C. – Citing significant risk to taxpayers and the provincial economy, Andrew Weaver, Leader of the B.C. Green Party and MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head, is calling for an absolute halt to Site C activities until the Auditor General’s report is completed.

“What do I think of Site C?,” says Weaver “It is risky and foolish. British Columbians are going to be paying for this project for decades, for a project that, in the absence of a vastly expanded LNG industry, we simply don’t need.”

On Monday B.C. Hydro will be in Vancouver seeking an injunction to remove a protest camp that has been set up by First Nations and landowners on the bank of the Peace River.

“Site C is a project that has been pushed forward from day one with exemptions on oversight every step of the way,” says Weaver. “The government has done everything it can to push aside dissent without reasonable justification. This latest move by B.C. Hydro is just another example of this approach.”

“Site C should have been subject to the B.C. Utilities Commision, but the government felt it would slow down their political agenda too much,” says Weaver.“I couldn’t agree more with former B.C. Hydro CEO Marc Eliesen in that due diligence is absolutely needed with a project of this magnitude. It’s simply reckless to proceed in this manner.”

Weaver warns that proceeding with Site C is also actively driving clean energy investment out of the province.

“Just two weeks ago the Canadian Wind Energy Association announced it was closing its office and leaving the province because the government and B.C. Hydro are just not interested,” says Weaver. “This mirrors a trend we saw last year with EDP Renewables – no interest from government for a roughly one billion dollar wind-power investment off Southern Vancouver Island, so the company walked.”

“Rather than let the market take the risk for energy infrastructure projects, this government is using billions of taxpayer dollars to get Site C ‘past the point of no return’. It’s a project that was dreamt up to support the pipedream of LNG. Now it’s a project without a home, and all we’ve seen is the cost go up and up while other opportunities vanish.”

Today in his response to the budget, Weaver elaborated on his fiscal concerns about Site C.

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Media Contact

Mat Wright – Press Secretary Andrew Weaver MLA
1 250 216 3382
mat.wright@leg.bc.ca