Common Sense Canadian

Rafe: NDP Leader Horgan’s Site C Dam opposition is a game-changer

Posted November 23, 2015 by Rafe Mair in WATER
Rafe- NDP Opposition should try some actual opposing

BC NDP and Official Opposition Leader John Horgan (

I suggest that everyone listen to this immediately – it is John Horgan, leader of the BC NDP, promising to shut down Site C and make up the energy difference through conservation, wind and solar power (listen here yourself to his CBC Daybreak North interview from Monday morning).

Site C is something that never should have happened, certainly not for decades to come. It has always been a bad idea and totally unwarranted based on the lack of power needs of BC Hydro and our province. There have been predictions by BC Hydro to justify this project but they neither justify it nor dispel the reality that BC Hydro always overestimates its power needs by a considerable amount.

The challenge for Mr. Horgan, in my view, is to stop Site C and at the same time decrease, not increase, Independent Power Projects (IPPs) which are ruining our rivers and bankrupting BC Hydro while making foreign investors unjustly rich. I’ve no doubt that Mr. Horgan has addressed this issue – if he hasn’t, there’ll be no shortage of experts addressing it for him.

Changing the game

This announcement, at least at first blush, is a game changer. Mr. Horgan is no longer tied to the apron strings of Christy and her LNG fantasies. This is extremely timely given the news over the last 30 days or so which all but set the funeral date for LNG and gazillion-dollar Prosperity Funds and debt elimination in this province. Christy can hardly, at this point, announce that she will cancel Site C too, and since that decision will be hugely popular as the facts come out, she is stuck flogging a dying horse, if not one that’s already been put down.

This decision will also give Horgan an issue where he is once again the Leader of the Opposition, not simply saying “me too” to LNG propositions put forward by Christy and her poodle, Rich Coleman – the beat cop who, like Walter Mitty, fantasizes that he’s become a world expert on energy.

The election campaign is underway and at this point, admittedly early in the game, I would say it’s suddenly advantage Horgan.

About the Author

Rafe Mair

Rafe Mair, LL.B, LL.D (Hon) a B.C. MLA 1975 to 1981, was Minister of Environment from late 1978 through 1979. In 1981 he left politics for Talk Radio becoming recognized as one of B.C.'s pre-eminent journalists. An avid fly fisherman, he took a special interest in Atlantic salmon farms and private power projects as environmental calamities and became a powerful voice in opposition to them. Rafe is the co-founder of The Common Sense Canadian and writes a regular blog at



    I would like to see Liberal Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett investigated. If you’ll recall he prevented the BCUC from taking part in the Site C dam hearings. When asked by reporters why Bennett responded, “We don’t want these hearings getting bogged down by a bunch of BCUC questions.” How is that not a crime? Bill knew full well that the BCUC had turned Site C down in the past. He wanted to avoid the same scenario….but why was he allowed to spit in the face of our democracy? Why hasn’t he been charged?

    John's Aghast

    Well, finally someone with potential stroke has come to their senses. This is what Damien and Rafe (and insignificant me) have been promulgating ever since Chrispy pounced on it last election. There is a desperate need for a less polluting energy source than LNG. I suspect there would be a lot of GHG generated in the construction of Site C, as well as destroying a food producing asset.
    Even now ‘they’ have come up with battery operated ferry systems, obsoleting NG as a fuel before we even got around to implementing it.
    Renewables will render Site C obsolete before its complete. (Remember that catchy little refrain ten years from now – Obsoletion before Completion!)

      Stuart Meade

      Re: Obsoletion before Completion

      A google of “How Africa’s fastest solar power project is lighting up Rawanda” will bring up a Guardian article of Nov 23/15 detailing the installation of a solar power field on a 17 hectare site in that country.

      The figures are revealing. Total cost for the facility is $23.7 million which will provide 8.5 Megawatts. This is approx. $2.83 million per Megawatt.

      Site C will cost $9 billion if recent statements are correct and provide 1100 Megawatts. This is approximately $8.3 million per megawatt.

      In view of the seriousness of assuming a crippling $9 billion debt by a public utility that is already staggering under $5 billion, -or is it $7billion, in “deferred debt” that it cannot repay at present power rates, these figures regarding large scale solar generation need further review.

      We may well end up in the same pile of crap as Ontario if we don’t pay attention here.


        BC Hydro’s debt is already at about $17 billion(?).

        That doesn’t include the $56 billion BC Hydro must pay for future purchases of power from IPPs, whether or not BC Hydro needs that power, or can sell it for a profit.


    Finally we have the NDP willing to define themselves rather that let someone or another party define who the NDP is.

    Martin C

    If Horgan is opposed to Site C then he shouldn’t be promoting LNG exports. The proposed Woodfibre and Tsawwassen LNG export terminals will be electrically powered and together would consume Site C’s ENTIRE output of 5,100 GWh/yr. And they are small terminals exporting a total of 7 megatonnes/yr – the proposed terminals up north would be 20 to 30 MT each. Liquefying nat. gas requires a tremendous amount of energy.


    Site C was delayed the first time because investing a portion of the interest costs from the construction debt into conservation would delay any need for that dam. Investing in alternatives and recovering the “sweetheart” IPP projects now will also justify a further long term delay of the Site c project. In 20 years, that valley might, in fact, be productive enough that the dam project could be abandoned forever. My concern about John’s energy plan is it doesn’t talk about curtailing the LNG extraction or banning fracking. Horgan has been a big “booster” of LNG over the years. LNG can be a viable BC industry without using the “fracking” methodology which is poisoning water and creating unstabling quakes.
    We have the technology to produce all the energy we need from wind, solar, tidal etc.
    LNG is designed purely as an export product and with the world demand shrinking – not something to be pursured with vigour & haste.

      John's Aghast

      Druid, IMHO, based entirely on reading about it 4 hours a day for the last three years, LNG will never become a viable BC industry. Even giving it away, with free electricity as CC promotes, there is no market for it. Production, liquification and shipping costs (IMHO) are too high.
      Utilization of NG in our local industries MAY be viable. Otherwise leave it in the ground.
      Read Stuart Meade’s comment above. Heck, California has several solar farms – one of which measures 16 square miles!

    Doug McKee

    Whatever happened to ‘Run of River’ projects. I thought these little ditties where the savior for new electrical needs for the province?


      Doug – Turned out precisely as was predicted here by Damien and me and, of course, Erik Andersen.. The IPP’s have ruined the rivers, bankrupted BC Hydro and made a lot of foreign investors a lot of money. When you are trying to get the truth out up against the stonewalling silence of Posrmedia it is not easy.

      It is to the eternal discredit, indeed disgrace of the MSM that the Liberal government has been virtually unchallenged in using our sacred rivers to enrich the rich and destroy what was probably the best power company in the world

    Anne Peterson

    I keep reading about geothermal potential in BC. Why is no one talking about it.

    Don F.

    I’m not holding my breadth that this guy will accomplish much. It took him what two years to understand some simple facts? Watching him and Christy is like watching the three stooges.
    The alarming part is that their antics cost us billions. When he agreed with her LNG madness I wrote him off forever. His CBC Daybreak north interview didn’t give me much hope.


      I’m still holding my breath for him to say or do something for the tens of thousands of people who wrote letters, as well as signed and presented him with petitions against smart meters. Might as well thrown the whole lot down a sewer.

      I would also say that given the looming, treasonous, signed, TPP, this new found tough talk is cheap.

      Without public consultation or consent, Crispy and her friends have entered into binding agreements with NERC (America) around supplying our electricity to their grid.

      Given the investor rights provisions in that TPP, Horgan can say whatever he wants. Because it could be out of his (our) hands. The Nerc could soon be telling us how many dams they want along with where and when they have to be installed..


    The govt ‘needs’ the economy to grow, every year, for infinity. That’s how they deal with the growing debt.

    Infinite growth is mathematically impossible. But I believe the idea is behind the govt’s fervour for dumb ideas like Site C and LNG export. They are seen as generating economic growth.

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