Hydro’s Overflowing Dams, Huge Losses Due to Private Power


This is neither a complicated nor a long story – but it’s a tragic vindication for a hell of a lot of people who have been telling the story, ignored at best, more often vilified.
Look at page 1 of the story in the Vancouver Sun, May 11 under the heading “HYDRO AWASH IN PRIVATE POWER”, where you’ll see that BC Hydro is spilling water over its dams and missing a chance to make a huge profit and is, instead, sustaining a crippling loss all by reason of corrupt bargains it’s been forced to make with private companies.
Ask yourself how Hydro could lose money in one of the wettest years in history, when their reservoirs are chock-a-block full?
It’s because of the gross negligence of the Campbell/Clark government – supported by the mainstream media (which has refused to do its job and investigate the private power plan – a plan which compels Hydro to buy private power at double+ the market price.)
Yes, folks, the chickens I’ve been writing about for years have indeed come home to roost – BC Hydro is buying private power while spilling its own water over the dams. Your power company, instead of using the water in its reservoirs to make power for British Columbians, lets it spill away, unused, while it pours money into grasping private hands at immense profits to them and immense losses to us.
Moreover, BC Hydro – such is the surplus of power in the US – could be buying Bonneville Dam power for a song and flipping it into a neat profit.
The exposure of the evils of the so-called “run of river” scheme was first published by Dr. John Calvert in his book, Liquid Gold, which exposure has been re-emphasized by too many power experts to mention – though one must point out the work of our resident economist Erik Andersen, who has been putting the price of these corporate rip-offs in language we can all understand.
We at the Common Sense Canadian have had super back-up from our contributors. It’s dangerous to list some for fear of offending others but as the official spokesperson for the Common Sense Canadian I must give special thanks to John Calvert, Marvin Rosenau, Larry Dill, Joe Foy, Otto Langer, Rex Weyler and so many others who weren’t afraid to stick their heads above the parapet.
Do Damien and I feel vindicated?
You’re damned right we do, though it leaves a very bitter taste. For nearly three years we’ve traveled this province from meeting to meeting, trailed by power company stooges putting out the bullshit that we weren’t telling the truth while having no “facts” of their own to put forward. We’ve seen local media reporters have their reports of our meetings spiked by editors told from above to make no mention of our evidence. We’ve searched and waited in vain for just one major media editor to back up the simple truths we were disseminating.
The momentary pleasure that comes with vindication is massively overwhelmed when one tots up the damage including the destruction of 75 rivers and streams and the ecologies they sustain, with hundreds more to come; the destruction of salmon runs and resident Rainbows, Cutthroat, Dolly Varden and Bull Trout; clear-cuts for utterly unnecessary roads and transmission lines; the incalculable loss of wildlife; and last but scarcely least, the bankruptcy of BC Hydro (the only reason it isn’t officially bankrupt is that it can always raise money by raising rates and obtaining grants from the government – this means that British Columbia, its citizens and industries are bankrolling slick, greedy corporations as they cheerfully comply with the secret sweetheart deals the Campbell/Clark government has forced BC Hydro to give them. Yes, the profits from these corrupt deals are, for the most part, sailing out of the province directly out of your pockets and mine..
British Columbia has the right to have this whole sordid mess investigated – we are also entitled to a media that delves into this grossly negligent government action and lays the facts out before us.
I cannot leave without making special mention of Tom Rankin, who spent a fortune in his Save Our Rivers Society bringing the truth to the people. Damien and I are both much in his debt and the Common Sense Canadian was, in large part, inspired by Tom’s sacrifices.
There it is, folks, the truth is out and, in all likelihood, they’ll all get away with it.


About 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 rafeonline.com.

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  4. Thank you Rafe, Damien and Tom for continuing to expose the pillaging of BC Hydro by the Campbell/Clark special friends. All 3 of you stood up and supported the residents of Tsawwassen as BC Hydro rammed high voltage power lines in the backyards of over a hundred homes. You helped expose the intention of selling privatevpower to the US. I was one of those who were forced out of our home by the corrupt Campbell government. There needs to be a provincial enquiry into the entire BCTC, BC Hydro and IPP sell out of BC residents. Even after 3 years Tsawwassen residents bear the scars of being taken to Supreme court by the BC government because they tried to protect their homes and their health. I will never forget or forgive Justice Pitfield for ordering reluctant Delta police to arrest people who were breaking no law. If they didn’t, Justice Pitfield, told Delta police,he would have them arrested by the RCMP. It has taken time and stubborn patience by people like you Rafe and Damien, to bring us to where the truth is finally recognized.


  6. If you read the article Simpson quotes Renate Kurchsner, who is somewhat unique at Hydro for being both competent and truthful as saying “inflows to Hydro’s reservoirs are only now “starting to pick up””. I interpret this to mean that the freshet has only just started in the Columbia and Peace watersheds. These are coming off some very dry years and need replenishing. If Hydro has to spill on these two rivers then we have a very serious situation and one that will clearly demonstrate Gordo’s criminal folly of “self-sufficiency”.Daisy Lake makes a good headline but its really small potatoes in the big picture of the obligations that have been forced on BC Hydro’s ratepayers (thats all of us pretty well) to buy huge amounts of intermittent power at ridiculous prices.

  7. I am going to look more into human cloning. If we had maybe just 10 more Rafes in BC we might have a chance.
    We do not have a prayer to save BC Hydro as long as Accenture is around. They gotta go. But will the DIx regime really be willing to take on the masters of the BC economy, the New York based PR firms who do the directing for the Wall Street interests?

    Walt McGinnis

  8. Brad Miller is correct. He cannot comment on rates being paid to IPP’s. That is the whole point, if it was such a good deal for taxpayers everyone would be scrambling to publish both the contractural obligations and just who was benefitting. There are some good honestly labelled “run of river” projects. These are either close to existing infrastructure or close to communities that will use the power to minimze use of diesel gensets. They do not drain lakes by 60 feet. They do not completely industrialize nearby pristine fjords with spiderwebs of powerlines and clearcuts for service roads and penstocks. They are publically owned. They are free from NAFTA rulings. They do not fill rivers with sediment. If his projects are good then he needs to divest of association with pennystockbroking government insiders whose projects are killing fish and have large visible impacts on inlets like Sechelt. After he builds them he can operate, but control is public. No amount of hydro power will completely rule out other forms of power generation. If the waterlevels are low, they are low for everyone. The amount of fossil fuels displaced by hydro IPP’s is minimum in our market.

  9. Thanks, Hugh. I have to think these projections will turn out to be even more costly this year due to the higher-than-usual water volumes this Spring…

  10. Brad, you’ve either had your head in the sand or you’re connected to the private power racket. There has been reams of evidence come to light in recent months of so-called RoR’s killing fish: http://www.vancouversun.com/technology/Exclusive+river+power+projects+kill+fish/6278890/story.html ; http://thecanadian.org/item/1390-damien-gillis-simi-sara-cknw-private-power-run-of-river-fish …Consider also how this evidence came to light – by way of freedom of information searches. There’s likely much more contained in locked government cabinets that we’ll never know…What you also see from these reports – compounded by the further slashing of DFO and Environment Canada staff by Stephen Harper via his current omnibus budget bill – is just how little monitoring and enforcement there really is of these projects. If a fish is killed in the river and there’s no one there to see, it’s as though it never happened…at least to you it is.

  11. Is Rafe on a rant again? I cannot comment on the rates being paid to the Run of the River providers but will say that I have constructed 3 projects. In all 3 cases, the rivers are running so deep and fast that no fish would ever live in the conditions, so strike the `killing the fish comment’ – NOT TRUE! – when completed, the sites are clean and most people don’t know they exist. Again, no harm.

    I am all for generation of hydro power and the use of electricity over fossil fuel and moreso, water generated power is far safer than the construction of Nuclear Power Plant.

    I do wish we could proceed with the Site C and sell our free water power to the US. Either way, I see nothing wrong with Run of the River power generation after seeing first hand the positive results and the fact there is no damage to the environment.

  12. Holly Pender-Love is correct. There are many still on the books just waiting for EAO rubber stamping. Note the CEAA has been dismantled, so no holdup there. Lora Bruncke is also correct. Where are all our honourable MLA’s and MP’s while these exisitng EPA agreements proceed to fruition? scotty on denman is correct too. Maybe we can’t dismantle existing IPP’s but we sure can stop any more from being built. Like Narrows Inlet. It isn’t even run of river. They are going to drain 4 more alpine lakes, even after the first one they drained crumbled to the sea just like the song said. To be sure, also like scotty says, there will be relentless attacks from stockbroking profiteers everywhere. So many of the approved IPP’s are now in the hands of foreign hedge funds. They got there because of the pennystockbroking expertise of our government friends. Puts a new meaning into the phrase pump and dump scheme. Except in this case the taxpayer is actually making them lucrative so someone somewhere really is making money.

  13. This is omen of the greatest evils–among a long list–ever perpetrated by a government in Canada.
    Hydro is our crown jewel and should be sacrosanct, free of the grasp of greedy politicians and their friends.
    For this reasons alone, the BC Liberals deserve to lose every seta they hold in the province.

  14. I understand there are a number still on the books and approved for development. who has the guts and the will to say ” Enough Already?”

  15. Well written Rafe. Just a couple of remarks that will add further to the the feeling of outrage folks are now experiencing.
    In the spring of 2006 a USA corporation was brought into existence, “North American Electric Reliability Corporation”. Initial Trustees for NERC included three Canadians. Richard Drouin, Montreal: Fredrick Gorbet, Toronto; and Kenneth Peterson, Vancouver.
    NERC’s stated intention is to (a) “act as the electric reliability organization for the United States as certified by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and for Canada and Mexico as recognized —” and (b) “to develop, implement, and enforce, consistent with executed agreements with regional entities — “etc.
    NERC completed an MOU with “The National Energy Board” of Canada September, 2006.
    From NERC’s Annual report for 2010 it is stated “NERC standards are MANDATORY and ENFORCEABLE in Ontaro and New Brunswick as a matter of provincial law.
    Under “Compliance Enforcement” FERC reports total active violation as at Jan. 10 2,006.
    FERC is a private corporation much like the FED and has enforcement power over producers of electricity.
    Perhaps now people will appreciate why Hydro was made an over-producer.

  16. Where are all our Honourable MLA’s and MP’s? Hiding from the truth and in the meantime the corporations are taking our country down with debt and waste!

  17. The alarm has been successfully raised by many dedicated people, especially you, Rafe. The IPP scam can now be articulated by many, many people and that’s quite a feat because the BC Liberals have done so many other bad things, even something as big and bad as IPPs could have gotten lost.
    Focus and determination plus the dedication spearheaded by an experienced pundit has worked. Thank you a thousand times, Rafe and every one.

    I’m hoping there’s enough in reserve because even after the BC Liberals are bounced there’ll be a tremendous effort required to reverse and repair the damages done to wild rivers, the public books and particularly our jewel of public institutions, BC Hydro.

    Time has come to move to the next phase: discussing the nitty gritty of getting rid of IPPs. Not necessarily demolishing every IPP installed so far but which ones in particular, how much this is going to cost us, etc.

    This may actually be the most difficult part of the journey with all the complexities and numbers, not to mention the relentless attacks from profiteers everywhere. In other words, the time is just perfect for getting started, for continuing and for completing.

    Thanks again, Rafe.

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