Unfortunately, Norm Macdonald, in he and his party’s rush to slag anything associated with BC Liberals and his rush to appease his supporters, has been able to keep silent the good part of run-of-the-river-type power projects.
There are good things about run-of-the-river. There are good things about wind farms. And there are good things about bio fuel generation plants not the least of which is using those dead and dying trees in the Central Plateau/Cariboo areas of the province.
As to Glacier Howse, Norm and his supporters did not understand the function of the environmental review process and ended up, in sessions, using the venue as a platform to vent against everything from the Columbia River Treaty to privatization to power lines in the wilderness.
They did forget the part of the system the EAO is tasked with addressing It is there for one reason and one reason only — to address the environmental issues of a proposal — not listen to worries of selling our water or electricity to the ugly Americans. Norm knows that is not the case.
It was not about privatization of our rivers. He knows that is not the case. Yes, the right of a company to lease the area and water license is set at 40 years. Is that privatization? Hardly.
Norm has been simply patronizing his supporters. Even the NDP party’s leader and executive has changed their stance for the party in relation to alternative power generation.
Why was Glacier Howse denied a licence? It was because some folks stood up and talked about the environmental impact and lack of remediation regarding fish habitat. It had nothing to do with power lines for which the proponent has a very good solution and is very innovative to boot. It was not because of the Columbia River Treaty and its selling of power to the USA.
That Columbia Treaty sale and building of infrastructure has been in place for decades and has benefited the Kootenays immensely for decades.
An alternative to the run-of-the-river type of power generation might be another dam on the Peace River and all its inherent issues. Also for that matter, the cost increase over what our current rates are being based upon. Costs have not gone up since the Columbia River dams have been built. Do you believe that? I don’t. Our electricity rates have not gone up relative to current costs of building a dam across any river.
The remuneration reflected in the levels offered to private companies leasing rights to different streams and rivers does reflect current costs. Hence the rhetoric of “Oh! Oh! The people of BC are subsidizing these private companies.”
Think on these realities of power generation. Realistically, the easiest way to reduce electricity consumption in BC is to raise rates for hydro to both residential and industrial users. There are however economic consequences to raising industrial users’ rates are there not? If companies can’t afford to produce, then unemployment is possible. But that would certainly force companies to reduce power consumption.
The consequences for residential upcharges is monies out of our pockets. The good side would then be that we would use less electricity.
There are good and bad consequences to every choice a government makes. It is always a balancing act. To make the best use of scarce resources, any government has to make choices and sometimes they are difficult and unpopular choices. More often than not, there is always someone out there who wants things done differently or who has a different political vision.
The balancing act for any government in regards to power generation and use is this: big power projects — Site C dam — or small run-of-the-river systems that require shorter power transmission lines relative to a Site , or brown-outs in our communities (Read Golden in the immediate area) or severe conservation measures to stop over-use of current resources which then means much higher hydro rates.
I would appreciate hearing back from you, the public as to your preference.
David R. Pacey
President, BC LIberals