BC Liberals: “We {heart} BC Hydro” Really!

So because I’m a news dork, I subscribe to the PR RSS feed from the BC Government. I knew right away there was blogging material coming my way when I saw this headline:


*rubs hands together*… lets begin:

Says El Gordo:

Claim: B.C. does not need to be electricity self-sufficient; we can easily import any new electricity we need from other jurisdictions.

Is anyone actually claiming that importing electricity into BC is a good thing?? Certainly is news to me.

They do get a little uppity in their response to…. themselves….

It takes time to build new electricity infrastructure responsibly, and government is not going to risk being ‘caught short’ by not continuing to plan for the economic future of this province.

Ya, so just lay off, Self! OK!! the nerve…

Ok, something a little more serious from Gordon:

Claim: The 2002 Energy Plan bans BC Hydro from building new electricity generation facilities.

Capital investments on several other sites are also proposed: Peace Canyon Stator replacement, GM Shrum Stator upgrade, Aberfeldie Dam Redevelopment and Coquitlam Dam Improvement Project.
In anticipation of increased demand, BC Hydro is adding capacity to the Revelstoke Dam and Generating Station. Revelstoke Dam is the most cost-effective energy source available to BC Hydro. This project will add about 500 megawatts of power, which will increase capacity at Revelstoke to 2,480 megawatts. As well, BC Hydro plans to add 1,000 megawatts of capacity with two new turbines at the Mica dam.

Funny. None of the projects in the response sound like new generation facilities to me… do they to you? Yes, renovations are important and good, but what about addressing the question of who is building the NEW projects in the province? Yes, Site C is there for BC Hydro only, but then, that’s not the problem, is it.

OK, I’m going to do one more… quoteth King Campbell:

Claim: B.C. ratepayers are paying the capital costs of new power projects being built by private energy developers through Electricity Purchase Agreement contracts with BC Hydro, and are paying as much as double the current energy market rates.

The cost BC Hydro pays for new power supply from IPPs is similar to that being paid in other jurisdictions for new supply.

But isn’t that the point? We don’t *want* to pay the same as other jurisdictions. We are supposed to be using our monopoly and advantage given to us by our Publicly Owned Electricity to ensure that we pay *less* for new supply than other jurisdictions and retain that advantage for the lifetime of the project.

At least that’s how I thought it was supposed to work?

Building new power projects is more expensive today than it was several decades ago. It costs more, not because they are IPPs, but because they are new projects. Similarly, a new home or vehicle costs more to build today than it did in the 1960s or 1970s.

Again, what is being implied here is that it is cheaper for private companies to build new plants than it is for BC Hydro. And again, have economies of scale stopped working since 1968? Can BC Hydro and BC taxpayers not benefit more from having full access to the revenue stream (no pun intended) from run-of-river than if built by a private firm?

In 1968 BC Hydro started work on the W A C Bennet Dam… it ended up costing just under $1 Billion in 1974. That’s about $4.5 Billion in 2009 dollars.

Site C is a much smaller dam compared to the WAC Bennett which has been expanded with double the generators over the years.

However, at its initial build in 1974, WAC Bennet was producing around 1500MW.

Site C will likely cost around $6 Billion and produce 900MW.

This is all semantics of course, because the *point* of public ownership is that the public doles out the money in order to receive the maximum benefit and minimum payoff period.

Nothing has changed in that respect. So no matter how much Gordo wants to spin the beauty of IPPs, the fact remains, our resources are being sold to for-profit companies and their shareholders (like GE) who are right now feeling the hurt.

One wonders how many of the 30 projects currently under construction might get shelved or abandoned due to “credit tightness”. What’s the cost to take those over?

I don’t have a problem with Run-of-River or Site C, I think the environmental costs are minimal and manageable compared to our continued reliance on fossil fuels. However, public ownership, in my opinion, is not negotiable when it comes to water and power in BC.