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Swain: Building Site C would harm BC’s credit rating; cancelling it would not

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Posted December 7, 2017 by Damien Gillis in Economics
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Former TD Bank Comptroller: Site C Dam too costly, unnecessary

The head of the Joint Review Panel on the controversial Site C Dam, Harry Swain, is dispelling the notion that cancelling Site C would somehow harm BC’s credit rating. In fact, it’s quite the opposite, he warns:
Terminating Site C means paying back the money that’s already spent in order to avoid another $10 billion in debt. From the credit rating agencies’ point of view, that’s a huge relief. No downgrade will be necessary.

A lower credit rating means a higher cost of borrowing for the province, which would strain the budget and further hamper the NDP-led government’s ability to deliver on its campaign promises. Swain’s comments are in line with a warning from Moody’s that the single biggest threat to our Triple-A credit rating is BC Hydro-related debt. The already over budget Site C – piled on top of all the costly private power contracts and new debt the crown corporation accrued under the Liberals – would only compound an already bad situation.

Harry Swain

Swain’s comments, made in an emailed statement obtained by The Common Sense Canadian, add to the message he delivered at a press conference earlier this week, when he rebutted claims that cancelling the $10-12.5 Billion project would cause a significant increase to power bills in the coming years. “A decision to continue to build the dam based on fears of a big rate hike from cancellation would be a decision taken in serious ignorance,” Swain noted today.

“The decision about how many years it will take to pay off the termination costs will be decided by BCUC,” he added. “It will not be immediate. It will be done over a reasonable period of time so as to avoid unnecessary rate shock.”

Swain has repeatedly dispelled the need for the power, drawing attention to BC Hydro’s poor track record on predicting future demand, and quoting from the BC Utilities Commission’s similar finding on the subject, stating at the recent press conference:

[The BCUC] was severely critical of BC Hydro’s load forecasting ability…noting that in forecasts going back fifty years, 77% of the time, they had been high to way-too-high…Even by Hydro’s account, we don’t need new power until somewhere in the middle of the 2030’s. By better load forecasting, that’s probably put off to the 2040’s.
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About the Author

Damien Gillis

Damien Gillis is a Vancouver-based documentary filmmaker with a focus on environmental and social justice issues - especially relating to water, energy, and saving Canada's wild salmon - working with many environmental organizations in BC and around the world. He is the co-founder, along with Rafe Mair, of The Common Sense Canadian, and a board member of both the BC Environmental Network and the Haig-Brown Institute.

7 Comments


  1.  
    Evil Eye

    I will be blunt, Horgan was bought off by the unions, who want high pay union jobs at the site.

    What Horgan has done is effectively having the NDP drink Hemlock and the NDP are going to die a painful slow death.

    Why vote NDP? They are no better than the Liberals, they don’t give a f*** about anything except their friends and insiders.

    Weaver’s Greens will be the only effective political party in BC, as both the Liberals and NDP hubris will have them fighting old battles, settling old scores and doing nothing but increasing the provincial debt.

    Adios NDP, you chealpass b******, you sold out for your 30 pieces of silver and i hope you choke on it!

    Mad, you bloody well bet I am mad, because Horgan and his gang will now make the wrong decisions, based on the BC Trades and government workers unions and not common sense.

    We saw the same BS with Clark and McPhail when they got bought off by Bombardier and SNC Lavalin and the only thing I can say is; “What was your price John?”

    What was your price to betray BC.

    Loser!




  2.  
    nonconfidencevote

    Well,
    What a difference a few days makes.

    Appears John Horgan knuckled under to the Unions AND Big Business .
    Thats quite a feat!
    Straddling the fence while pulling rabbits out of a hat.

    The $4 billion currently spent will be peanuts to what is coming.
    And his rational was, ” If we didnt build this Dam we’d be condemning BC Hydro Rate payers to years of expensive rate hikes to pay off the debt…”

    Ummmm isnt that what you have just done?

    Then we get this gem, ” This power will be needed for future generations ( wow a whole 450,000 people get power for 100 years).
    Lets face it.
    This Dam was intended for the LNG industry and when that collapsed…..it’s being built for the jobs(Votes?) right now.
    And I dare say a great many of those jobs are employing nonvoting tradesmen from outside the Province who will pack up and leave as soon as they can.

    Well done Mr Horgan.
    You just lost the next election and the Liberals thank you for it.




    •  
      Evil Eye

      So right on.

      This is the same tragedy that what happened with the Broadway-Lougheed rapid transit project, Clark and McPhail were bought off by Bombardier Inc. and SNC Lavalin (the patent holders of ART SkyTrain).

      Regional transit is a disaster; TransLink is a fiasco; and the specter of more and more taxes and higher Hydro rates will make me move, maybe out of BC.

      Lying cheating bastards.

      I hope the Greens get a lot of seats because of this out of the next election and the NDP once again reduced to 2.




  3.  
    John Brennand

    I wish SOMEONE would tell us why this thing should be built. Since it was first conceived no one has put forward a business case, or any case, for building it that stands up to even the most cursory examination. For the sake of our province, this disaster must be stopped.




  4.  
    Randal Hadland

    Many thanks Mr. Swain. What do you think would White Wooly Mammoth be a good name for a snowboard run down the road BC Hydro has been trying to build for the last two years? I think we will see it.




  5.  
    Kevin Logan

    The guy responsible for the official review of the project dispels all the myths and claims we should not build it. Enough said.

    Time to put down Christy Clark’s “White Wooly Mammoth” 🙂 – ya see what I did there? “White Wooly Mammoth” – a cross between a White Elephant and a dinosaur!

    😉





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