Tag Archives: Site C Dam

Paddle for the Peace Puts Site C Dam in Focus This Weekend


Read this story from Fort St. John’s Alaska Highway News on this year’s “Paddle for the Peace”, in which hundreds are expected to take part in opposition to the proposed Site C Dam. (July 12, 2012)

Hundreds will canoe down the Peace River on Saturday.

Some are coming to show their opposition to Site C, such as David Suzuki, while others simply want to enjoy the natural serenity of the river.

“Originally it was started seven years ago because we just wanted to bring the community to the river,” said organizer Danielle Yeoman. “We thought it was a good way to bring people…(to canoe) on the river.

“The river is for everyone,” she said.

The event is organized by the Peace Valley Environmental Association (PVEA) and the West Moberly First Nations.

“The PVEA’s sole purpose is to stop Site C; that’s why the organization was created,” said Yeoman. “However, it (was) on the back burners, and so truly, when we started this, it wasn’t to do what we’re doing now.

“Now we are actively, obviously, trying to stop Site C again,” she said.

Site C is a controversial project that would see BC Hydro build a third dam on the Peace River to produce power to accommodate future energy needs for this growing province, according to BC Hydro.

Yeoman said that though the PVEA’s intent is to stop Site C, the event is truly about celebrating the river.

“Everyone is welcome,” she said. “In fact, we’d like people that are pro-Site C to come because it usually takes tow minutes to convert them if they’re sitting on the fence.”

She noted that Suzuki “supports” their cause.

“Everybody just thinks he’s a tree hugger – well, he’s that too – but he’s wise,” she said. “He’s only kept a handful of things he wants to fight and Site C is one of them.”

Yeoman noted that Suzuki has been up here on the Peace in the past, and she’s excited for him to speak.

“One of the things that’s really important, since Site C resurfaced three or four years ago, we didn’t have anybody on our side,” she said.

She noted that having people like Suzuki, The Wilderness Committee and others join PVEA’s cause has been positive.

“They’re coming up and they’re actively fighting Site C too,” she said.

She noted that the event has grown steadily since it began seven years ago.

Read more: http://www.alaskahighwaynews.ca/article/20120709/FORTSTJOHN0101/307099959/-1/FORTSTJOHN20/peace-ful-paddling


BC Hydro’s $30 Billion Blind Gamble


I was astonished to read, “A new forecast by BC Hydro shows electricity demand in the province is expected to grow by 50 per cent over the next 20 years,” in a recent article from the Vancouver Sun. To understand why I use the term “astonished”, one must delve deeper to see that this statement is not supported by Hydro’s own data and other global economic data. Rather than taking everything at face value, I’ve learned it’s critically important to question the statements made by BC Hydro and the current provincial government. After watching a documentary on the collapse of Enron and how wild forecasting and lack of genuine oversight led to one of the largest financial failures in modern history, the resounding statement was, “ask why” – wise words to follow to avoid repeating history.

It will be of help to the reader to understand some of the financial implications of BC Hydro’s forecasting. Discussion should start with the understanding of the unit used to measure and report about electrical energy. It is the Gigawatt hour (GWhr) per year, as you can see in the chart that follows. Using the public values associated with the proposed Site C generation plant, it takes $2,000,000 of borrowed money to produce one GWhr/year of usable energy. Keep in mind as you read what follows, your Government and BC Hydro are apparently intent on borrowing and spending, in your name, $30,000,000,000 by 2017. If left to follow the path set out in the most recent BC Hydro forecast, the corporation’s total liabilities will explode to $80,000,000,000! As a shareholder, ratepayer and guarantor of the debt are you ready for this experience?

This is an evidence-based discussion, which means looking at actual domestic demand from BC Hydro’s annual financial reports in concert with various historical demand forecasts by BC Hydro. This data is shown in Graph 1, below.

It can be seen from this graph that the domestic demand had a significant downturn starting in 2008 and that we are currently at pre-2005 levels. Comparing BC Hydro’s forecasts with the actual demand clearly indicates how poorly they match up, even failing to predict any degree of decline.

What is arguably even more striking than BC Hydro’s apparently poor forecasting skills is the trend in their forecasting. According to their predictions, the rate of increase in demand is greater for each forecast, illustrated by a sharper rise for each subsequent forecast. This begs the questions as to why this would be the case and if there is any justification for it.

BC Hydro has previously stated that this increasing domestic demand is based on increasing population. However, population growth, plotted in Graph 2, can be seen to be fairly linear from 2003 onward. With the population increasing at a fairly steady rate, one would similarly expect domestic demand to increase at a constant rate, if modelled on population growth. Added to this is the growing recognition that per capita demand for electricity has been declining since 2008.  An increasing rate would result from accelerated population growth, which is not the case. This becomes most troublesome with the 2010/2011 forecast, which portrays a dramatic rise in the forecasted rate of increase without the associated population growth to warrant it. What is the justification? There is none – it is a deliberate exaggeration of provincial demand.

Graph 2 includes BC Hydro’s longer term forecast to 2030. In addition, it shows a projection by Erik Andersen that utilizes a per capita demand value for residential plus commercial customers coupled with an expectation of industrial demand. The latter is reflective of new industrial customers having to pay higher than the “legacy rates” that are available to some established large customers.

By presenting an exaggerated need for more domestic generation capacity BC Hydro is giving cover for its call for new Independent Power Producer contracts and for projects like Site C. This is a continuation of a corporate culture documented in the book White Gold by Karl Froschauer.

What BC Hydro and the current government are ignoring is the present state of the global economy.  Of the many global business indicators available one of the best is the Baltic Dry Cargo Index. This historical index combines dry cargo shipping charter rates with volumes. It is considered by professionals as the only uncontaminated global index because it is not subjected to speculative “gaming”. It is also considered one of the best leading economic indicators available to the public. Graph 3, below, adds the Baltic Dry Cargo Index to Graph 1 (above).

It is interesting to note how closely the BDCI matches the trend in domestic BC electricity demand. To ignore the current global economic climate, which domestic demand appears to parallel, is a seriously large financial gamble.

BC Hydro has a well-documented history of exaggerating demand to serve corporate interests and that pattern is repeating. There is no evidence to support their claim and BC citizens need to start asking “why?” to avoid the blunders of the past reoccurring. In terms of the current state of the global economy, there is trouble out there and you don’t go stepping out into new debt at a time like this.

A recent article in the New York Times has shown that Asia has been “falsifying economic statistics to disguise the true depth of the troubles”, which is why a global indicator such as the BDCI is so important.  Folks who aren’t making their “numbers” resort to “Enron-style” information flow. China’s sputtering economy is facing tumbling electricity demand, yet that is largely being hidden.

We must insist on evidence-based projections of demand that take into account the global economy as opposed to wishful thinking on BC Hydro’s part. The latter has the tendency to produce stranded assets at the expense of the citizens of BC.

Sandra Hoffmann is a Ph.D chemist specializing in water chemistry and is the former coordinator for the Peace Valley Environment Association. Erik Andersen is an independent economist and regular contributor to the Common Sense Canadian.


45-day Site C Dam Public Consultation Period Begins – No Public Meetings in Vancouver ot Victoria


Read this story from Business in Vancouver reporting on the recently-announced 45-day public comment period on the draft environmental impact statement for the proposed Site C Dam in Northeast BC. (April 11, 2012):

Six open houses will be held to provide information and garner feedback on the proposed Site C dam – but if you want to attend in person, you’ll have to travel to northern B.C. or Alberta.

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency and BC Environmental Assessment Office released Tuesday the draft environmental impact statement (http://www.eao.gov.bc.ca/pcp/forms/Site_C_form.html) for the proposed $8 billion, 1,100-megawatt hydroelectric dam on the Peace River.

A 45-day public comment period on the impact statement has been scheduled. Written comments will be submitted between April 17 and June 1. Comments can be mailed or submitted online.

A series of open houses has been scheduled for the first two weeks of May:



  • May 1, 3 to 8 p.m., North Peace Cultural Centre, Fort St. John;
  • May 2, 4 to 8 p.m., Hudson’s Hope Community Hall;
  • May 3, 4 to 8 p.m., Pomeroy Inn & Suites, Chetwynd;
  • May 8, 4 to 8 p.m., Sawridge Inn & Conference Centre, Peace River, Alberta;
  • May 9, 4 to 8 p.m., Best Western Dawson Creek, Dawson Creek;
  • May 10, 3 to 8 p.m., Ramada Inn, Prince George.

If approved, the Site C dam is expected to take a decade to build. It would be the third in a series of dams on the B.C. portion of the Peace River.

The project includes a 1,050-metre-long, 60-metre-high earthen dam, an 83-kilometre-long reservoir, a 1,100-MW generating station and two 77-kilometre transmission lines running along an existing right-of-way to connect to BC Hydro’s grid.

The biggest environmental drawback to the plan is that it would require the flooding of 5,340 hectares of prime agricultural land. (See “Damned if we do: Site C revisited” – issue 1142; September 13-20, 2012.)

Read article: http://www.bivinteractive.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=5642:site-c-dam-public-hearings-set-for-northern-bc-&catid=14:daily-news&Itemid=46


Rafe Mair – One on One with BC NDP Leader Adrian Dix (Part 1)


In the first of a two-part interview, Rafe Mair grills BC NDP Leader Adrian Dix on private power, Site C Dam and BC’s flawed environmental assessment process. What will the NDP do with existing and future private river power projects (a.k.a. IPPs) if they form the next government – and where do they stand on Site C Dam? Watch and find out…and stay tuned for part 2 Thursday, dealing with Enbridge, LNG and salmon farms.


Excellent CBC Radio Interview on Site C Dam with Peace Valley Environment Association’s Andrea Morison


Listen to this highly informative 8 min radio interview from CBC’s Daybreak North show – featuring Andrea Morison of the Peace Valley Environment Association discussing the proposed Site C Dam and its connection to the planned Liquid Natural Gas boom on BC’s coast. (Feb. 14, 2012)

Listen here



Joint Environmental Review Announced for Site C Dam


Read this report from The Vancouver Sun on the announcement of the joint federal and provincial panel review of the proposed Site C Dam in Northeast BC. (Feb 14, 2012)

The federal and provincial environment ministers announced Monday that they intend to conduct a joint environmental assessment of BC Hydro’s proposed Site C dam on the Peace River.

The joint assessment is aimed at eliminating duplication and speeding up the review process, B.C. Environment Minister Terry Lake said in an interview.

“We believe in the one project-one process approach. We don’t want to see a duplication by federal and provincial agencies on one project,” Lake said.

He said the joint approach will cost less and reduce the amount of time involved.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been critical of lengthy reviews for energy projects, specifically over Enbridge’s North Gateway pipeline proposal, which is currently before a review panel.

Lake said the joint assessment process will be conducted parallel to consultations with first nations. The joint assessment process is new but the Site C project is not the first one on which the two agencies have combined their review processes. Joint environmental assessments are already underway for two B.C. mining projects, the Ajax copper-gold mine proposal near Kamloops and the Raven coal mine proposal near Campbell River, Lake said.

Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/Province+announce+joint+environmental+review+Site/6147129/story.html


Clark Says Site C Dam Essential to LNG Development in BC


Read this story from Fort St. John’s EnergeticCity.ca on BC Premier Christy Clark’s recent comments that the controversial proposed Site C Dam is essential to building liquid natural gas plants on BC’s west coast. (Feb 10, 2012)

Site C and B.C.’s proposed LNG development go hand in hand, according to Premier Christy Clark. In an interview with Moose FM/energeticcity.ca, Clark explained that the newly approved licence for Shell to export liquefied natural gas out of Kitimat will use 100 per cent of the power Site C would create.

“We cannot create this new industry in British Columbia, by adding value to natural gas, without the power that would come from Site C. It’s an essential part of the plan in the long-term, to make sure that we’re putting British Columbians to work.”


She adds the province’s power needs are going to grow substantially, so “we’re going to need the power from Site C and we’re also going to need the power from lots of independent power producers from across the province: wind energy, run of river, you name it.” In saying so, she also criticized B.C. NDP leader Adrian Dix for supporting LNG development and not supporting Site C, saying he “can’t have it both ways.”

Clark says she is completely comfortable with the science behind fracking, and its possible associated health risks, and believes Northeast B.C. has the safest shale gas industry in the world. As she says, it can always get better, and the province has been pushing new practices, like publishing ingredients used in hydraulic fracturing on an online database.

“That will do two things: first, it will push companies to be even cleaner and greener all the time… I think it will drive innovation because we’re open about it; but second, I think it builds confidence in what we do.”

She points to instances where fracking has been done very badly elsewhere, like the U.S., and wants people to see what’s been done in B.C. to set an example. The hope is that oil and gas companies will take it upon themselves to get the word out about how safe practices are in the province.

“We set the highest bar anywhere in the world for fracking, and people need to see what we’re doing and need to understand it so they can too.”

Read more: http://energeticcity.ca/article/news/2012/02/09/site-c-essential-lng-development-clark



Conservation Groups Slam Paltry Funding for Site C Environmental Review


Read this article from the Georgia Straight on the concerns of environmental groups over the prohibitively small amount of funding made available to participate in the Joint Panel Review into the proposed Site C Dam.

“A prominent B.C. environmental leader is slamming the Conservative
government for achieving “a new low” by capping funding for interveners
in the Site C dam’s joint environmental assessment process. ‘While $19,000 [per organization] may look like a fair amount of
money, when you’re talking about having to hire technical experts,
lawyers, and researchers, it does not go very far, especially when
stacked up against the kind of resources B.C. Hydro has at its
disposal,’ George Heyman, executive director of Sierra Club B.C., told the Straight by phone. ‘So it’s an extremely tipped playing field.’

The provincial and federal environmental-assessment offices
announced on September 30 that a harmonized environmental assessment
process, including a joint review panel, will be undertaken for the Site
C project. The proposed dam would be the third on the Peace River,
alongside the W. A. C. Bennett and Peace Canyon dams.” (Nov. 24, 2011)

Read full article: http://www.straight.com/article-546646/vancouver/groups-slam-site-c-assessment-funding-cap


New Report from Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives: Fracking Up Our Water, Hydro Power and Climate


Read this vital new report from Ben Parfitt and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives on the impacts of fracking technology and resource development in BC.

“A new study concludes that BC’s ballooning shale gas industry is the
natural gas equivalent of Alberta’s tar sands, placing the province’s
water and hydro resource at risk as well as jeopardizing climate change

Despite industry and government assertions that natural gas from
shale rock is a ‘green’ alternative to other fossil fuels, the study
released today by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and
Wilderness Committee finds the opposite, and lays much of the blame on
the controversial gas extraction technology known as hydraulic
fracturing, or ‘fracking.'” (Nov. 9, 2011)

Read report: http://www.policyalternatives.ca/fracking

Peterson Farm wheat harvest - 1990s (courtesy of Lynda & Larry Peterson)

Site C Dam: The Folly of Choosing Energy Over Food Security


I recently returned from a trip up to Peace River Country in Northeast BC, filming for a forthcoming short documentary on the Campbell/Clark Government’s proposed Site C Dam.

While I wasn’t raised in the region, I have a personal connection to the land and its history. I spent many summers and winter holidays there as a child visiting relatives. My family were early settlers in the Valley, circa 1910, and most of them still reside in the area. Some fifty years ago we lost our farm – Goldbar Ranch, West of Hudson’s Hope – to the province’s first big hydroelectric project, WAC Bennett Dam.

But that was a different time – guided by a very different vision for the future of a burgeoning young province. While it wasn’t easy for families like mine and First Nations who lost much of their ancestral territories and traditional way of life, there was a real purpose to building those early dams. Knowing what we knew then, it was an understandable decision that Premier WAC Bennett made, with the overall public good in mind (though he certainly should have consulted better with First Nations and local citizens, something that was sorely lacking).

By contrast, today, there are many good reasons why the final of three dams long planned for the Valley – Site C Dam, near Fort St. John – isn’t in the public or environmental interest, despite what our government has been telling us to the contrary.

Besides its breathtaking beauty and tremendous fish and wildlife values, the Peace River Valley is home to some of the best farmland in BC.

The soil is of very high quality: nearly 12,000 acres of good agricultural-grade land would be flooded for the project – several thousand of which bear class 1 and class 2 soils.

But it’s not just the earth that makes the Peace Valley ideal for a diverse range of food production. The valley also produces a unique micro-climate that yields a longer growing season than anywhere north of the Fraser River Delta and Valley (another critical food security region in BC under siege from development – in this case highways, ports, and housing and industrial development). Everything from corn and potatoes to cantaloupes and watermelon have been grown in the Peace Valley.

At one time, a single farm run by Lynda and Larry Peterson provided a quarter of the region’s potatoes and a market garden with fresh fruits and vegetables of a wide variety.

But today, the Valley isn’t producing nearly what it could, due to a flood reserve which has held vast tracts of land hostage to the recurring threat of another dam. Consequently, much of this land lays fallow, while the region has seen many of its farming and food processing services disappear, along with the market gardens that once flourished, supplying residents with locally-grown produce.

For me, the question of Site C Dam really comes down to a choice between energy and food security.

Despite what the public has been told about BC’s energy situation, the province is more than able to meet its own electricity needs without building Site C – or paying billions of dollars for exorbitant, unnecessary private river power. Our electrical consumption has actually been trending down, thanks to a slow-down of the global economy (which shows no signs of reversing) and power smart programs taking effect (from 53,500 GWh of electricity in 2009 to just over 50,000 last year).

Under pressure from BC Hydro’s CEO, a recent panel review of the public utility, and the media and public, the Clark Government appears to be backing away from its ill-conceived and improperly named “self-sufficiency” and “insurance” requirements that falsely inflated the province’s need for electricity.

By contrast, BC is facing a food security crisis. According to data from the provincial Ministry of Agriculture and Lands, as of five years ago, we were less than 50% self-sufficient in food and down from approximately 80% self-sufficiency in vegetables in 1970 to about 40% today.

It’s clear that food self-sufficiency is a far greater concern for the province than electrical self-sufficiency; ergo, the Peace Valley should be preserved for food production and wildlife habitat, not flooded for power we don’t need.

So where is this power really going? To natural gas fracking operations in the region. I’m told by people researching the matter that two of the major gas processing facilities in the Horn River Basin, northeast of Fort Nelson – Encana’s Cabin Gas Plant and Spectra’s nearby operation – could eat up close to a quarter of Site C’s total power output alone. And there are many other large operations being built for natural gas extraction and transmission – in addition to major coal mines throughout the region, all in need of significant power. Energy Minister Dick Neufeld told locals publicly in 2008 that half of the power from Site C was destined for Horn River shale gas operations – evidenced by the fact the government wants to build a major transmission line from the Fort St. John area up to the Horn River Basin, to carry this new power from Site C.

All of this once again begs the question, why are talking about wiping out 12,000 acres of productive farmland and important wildlife habitat to subsidize natural gas and coal operations? (And bear in mind that not only will you be financing the $8-10 BILLION dam as a taxpayer and shareholder of BC Hydro, but you will continue subsidizing large industrial power users – who pay half or less what you pay for electricity – through your much higher power bills and tax bills well into the future).

Clearly this is the wrong direction for BC to be going in. What needs to happen now is for Site C to be cancelled once and for all, for the long-standing flood reserve to be lifted off the Peace Valley, and for local farmers to return to the land. If farmed to its full potential, this valley could feed the whole region and a significant portion of Northern BC.

Watch for a forthcoming short documentary by Damien Gillis on Site C Dam in early 2012.