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

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Column: One parenting book certainly doesn’t fit all

Like the fingerprints they are born with – each child is different.… Continue reading

Ryga Arts Festival to include virtual and in-person events

Arts festival in Summerland will run from Aug. 15 to 23

Okanagan and Shuswap MPs want federal funds to help stop invasive species

Concerns raised that spending favours Eastern Canada.

Summerland Ornamental Gardens remain closed

Staff and volunteers continue to weed and maintain plants

Canada’s deficit result of investing in Canadians: Minister of Middle-Class Prosperity

Minister Mona Fortier said the government is working on the next steps as the economy restarts

B.C. sees 25 new COVID-19 cases, community exposure tracked

One death, outbreaks remain in two long-term care facilities

RCMP ‘disappointed’ by talk that race a factor in quiet Rideau Hall arrest

Corey Hurren, who is from Manitoba, is facing 22 charges

NHL’s Canadian hubs offer little economic benefit, but morale boost is valuable: experts

Games are slated to start Aug. 1 with six Canadian teams qualifying for the 24-team resumption of play

‘Made in the Cowichan Valley’ coming to a wine bottle near you

Cowichan Valley has the honour of being the first sub-GI outside of the Okanagan

VIDEO: Vancouver Island cat missing 18 months reunited with family

Blue the cat found at Victoria museum 17 kilometres from home

COVID-19 cases identified in Kelowna, after public gatherings

Those who were downtown or at the waterfront from June 25 to July 6 maybe have been exposed to COVID-19.

VIDEO: Alberta man rescues baby eagle believed to be drowning in East Kootenay lake

Brett Bacon was boating on a lake in Windermere when he spotted the baby eagle struggling in the water

Summerland Blossom Youth Ambassador Program to hold coronation

Event will be held by video as a result of COVID-19 precautions

Vernon shutterbugs capture rainbow

A rain event July 9 made way for a glorious sight

Most Read