To the Editor:
A copy of a letter pertaining to the "Financial Case against the Site C project" was addressed to Mr Pat Pimm MLA last month. As of the moment, we have not received a response to our original letter.
Here are many of the issues raised in the letter that was sent to his office, which is likely of interest to many of your readers.
Energy policy in the Province of British Columbia has been in transition for many months now. With the policy clearly beginning to favour natural gas in its overall role and use, it is now time to address some related financial concerns incurred BC Hydro projects such as the Site C project. As a result of a predetermined mindset, policy makers and politicians alike have avoided the discussion of electricity options available here in BC. The use of a natural gas fired facility as a viable financial option has not happened. This may well result in one of the most significant miscalculations in our time.
It is time, regardless, to make a fiscal comparison of the Site C project with a viable natural gas power facility of comparable power and energy output. This facility known as the Shepard Energy Centre is presently under construction near Calgary, Alberta. The plant will soon be operational and will have similar megawatt output with the proposed Site C project. But, this is where the similarity ends. The overall cost of the Shepard Centre will cost a fraction of the capital cost incurred by the BC Hydro Site C project. Our grave concern is that the tax and rate payers of BC will be saddled with a massive and needless debt load for decades to come.
Our intention is to begin a discussion with the public, politicians and policy makers of BC in order to instill a serious second sober look into the Site C project, from a strictly financial viewpoint. We want to make it clear to you that the financial fallout, if the project proceeds, will be catastrophic. We want to point out to you, that there is a viable financial option now that natural gas has been given a political reprieve. Natural gas can now be classified as clean energy.
As you are aware, the Premier has made gas a viable option under the recent changes made to the energy policy. Natural gas meets the key criteria that the Liberal government is looking for: clean, reliable and abundant.
We need not tell you that natural gas plays a key role in the Northeast and the Province. You continue to be an advocate for the natural gas industry, as well you should. Now is the time to advocate for a natural gas powered system similar to the Shepard Energy Centre here in BC. Under the present circumstances, where budget cuts have affected every conceivable corner of the government and public arena, it is appalling that the Site C project remains immune to scrutiny.
The government is now playing continual ads on television making statements such as “balancing the budget by controlling spending”. Where is the “control of spending” regarding the Site C project? We remind you that the Shepard facility will cost a sixth the capital costs, a fraction of a projected Site C hydro dam. This is assuming that there are no cost over runs, which Hydro is unwilling to even acknowledge. This would make the cost differential between the two systems even greater.
As our political representative for the North Peace, it is encumbant that you not support the flawed financial plan that is Site C. Megawatt for Megawatt, the Site C project cannot be politically justified. In fact, the Shepard facility will actually be on budget ($1.3 Billion) and it will produce MORE energy than the Site C project with a 6500 Gwh output per year compared to Site C at 5100 Gwh. Simply put, this gas powered plant will be 92 per cent efficient in comparison to 52 per cent for Site C.
Another government television ad states the following, “Environmentally friendly natural gas is adding $1 Trillion dollars to the BC economy” (while showing electricity transmission lines in the background of the ad). Clearly, Mr. Pimm, as our political representative, needs to re-visit the Site C project on the grounds of cost alone. There can be no financial benefit derived in pursuing a hydro project in light of the reliable and viable natural gas option. Your government must make natural gas a clear choice for British Columbia and not just for export.
It is now the 11th hour, now that Phase 3 of the Site C project is wrapping up. We need Pat Pimm to represent and protect the taxpayers and ratepayers here in the NE and in the province, and so we ask him to make his point of view clear regarding a Shepard Energy type of natural gas proposal in place of a Site C plan?
Clearly, this is a political choice. At the same time, as in politics, fiscal responsibility is part of the same reality.
Charlie Lake, B.C.