Land clearing and road construction began this summer for Site C

B.C. VIEWS: Lights out for Site C opponents

NDP leader John Horgan's energy plan appears to depend on savings from cancelling Peace dam construction, already underway

VICTORIA – The fall session of the B.C. legislature petered out two days early last week, as the ruling B.C. Liberals and the opposition NDP agreed to turn out the energy-efficient lights and head for home.

NDP leader John Horgan skipped the last day and headed to the B.C. Institute of Technology campus in Burnaby. There he announced “PowerBC,” billed as the NDP’s “bold, progressive plan for the future of B.C. energy, with a strong focus on jobs.”

Reporters asked, how many jobs? Horgan said retrofitting public buildings and homes for energy efficiency would create jobs all around the province, but he can’t say how many.

How much does the plan cost, and does it include subsidizing homeowners to fix their windows and insulation? “The costing will be more apparent when we get closer to the election,” Horgan replied.

Whatever the cost, the NDP plan apparently rests on the assumption that the $9 billion Site C dam project on the Peace River can be stopped by an NDP government after the 2017 election. That money would be used to build wind and solar generation, and to install a sixth and final water turbine at Revelstoke dam.

The chances of Site C being stopped are approaching zero. Construction of an access road started two months ago, site clearing and work camp construction a month before that. Energy Minister Bill Bennett says the main dam construction contract will be let shortly, followed by the powerhouse contract next year.

Horgan said remaining legal challenges could slow or stop the project.

The West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations have lost their case against Site C twice, in the B.C. Supreme and Federal Courts, and are appealing. The Doig River and McLeod Lake Indian Bands dropped their challenges, and McLeod Lake’s construction company has started work on a Site C contract.

West Moberly Chief Roland Willson staged a dramatic protest at the legislature last spring, bringing a cooler of frozen bull trout from a river below the two existing Peace dams, telling media they were too contaminated with mercury to eat.

Flooding land for hydro dams does elevate methylmercury levels in water, but BC Hydro provided me with the latest study that included fish samples collected by West Moberly members. It shows average methylmercury levels remain below federal guidelines for limiting consumption of commercially sold fish.

It’s an odd coincidence that Willson suddenly made this claim, 47 years after the first Peace dam was completed, when he happened to be in court trying to stop Site C.

A coalition of U.S. and Canadian environment groups is also demanding that Site C be stopped, using typical arguments to appeal to their low-information donor base. According to the Sierra Club and others, Site C is not renewable energy because the (largely idle) farmland it floods is a “carbon sink.” Forests do store carbon, albeit temporarily, but farmland where the trees have been cleared? This is gluten-free gobbledegook.

They also trot out the claim that Site C will be used to power liquefied natural gas operations. Most proponents so far have said they will use gas for LNG processing, and if they don’t have hydro available for ancillary power, they will have to burn more gas.

BC Hydro has just finished its latest grid upgrade, a second high-voltage transmission line from Merritt to Coquitlam. It adds disaster reliability to the system that brings power from the Peace and Columbia dams to the Lower Mainland.

If you’re arguing that hydroelectricity isn’t renewable power, you’ve already lost.

Tom Fletcher is legislature reporter and columnist for Black Press. Email: tfletcher@blackpress.ca Twitter: @tomfletcherbc

 

Just Posted

Still barriers to abortion access on Vancouver Island

Experts say transportation, support, doctors can be barriers to accessing abortion

Oak Bay dog walk benefits guide dogs

Two more walks set for Sunday in Victoria and Colwood

Coastline serves up a feast of fiddlers in Oak Bay

Local Juno Award winner musical director for ensemble

Police stay quiet on downtown fire investigation

The fire at Victoria’s Plaza Hotel was deemed suspicious on May 14

Kelowna toddler suffers cracked skull after fall from balcony

Neighbour who found the two-year-old boy said he has a bump the size of a golf ball on his head

POLL: Were you satisfied with the Game of Thrones series finale?

Millions gathered in front of their televisions Sunday night to watch the… Continue reading

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of May 21

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Pipeline protester chimes in on Justin Trudeau’s B.C. fundraising speech

The government purchased the Trans Mountain pipeline and expansion project for $4.5 billion

Canada stripping citizenship from Chinese man over alleged marriage fraud

The move comes amid severely strained relations between Ottawa and Beijing

Nevada court orders former Vancouver man to pay back $21.7M to investors

The commission says Michael Lathigee committed fraud over a decade ago

Support growing for orphaned Okanagan child after father dies in highway crash

Family thanks emergency crews for assistance in traumatic incident

Young man on Vancouver Island dies after losing control of ATV

Crash claimed the life of a 23-year-old south of Nanaimo over the long weekend

Baby boom seniors putting pressure on B.C. long-term care: report

B.C. leads Canada in growth of dementia, dependence on care

Most Read