Site C dam “not required”, NDP leadership hopeful John Horgan says

    1 of 1 2 of 1

      The B.C. NDP’s only Vancouver Island–based leadership candidate has said he believes the proposed Site C hydroelectric dam is unnecessary at this point in time.

      “Each pulp mill or sawmill that shuts down, that’s more power that’s available to B.C. Hydro through the existing supply,” John Horgan, long-time NDP energy critic, told the Straight by phone today (January 18). “Housing starts have not been what they were projected to be in 2005-2006, so residential demand is not growing at the rate that B.C. Hydro projected. So my view is that Site C is not required at this time, and there are other potentially lower-cost, best-use options available to the corporation.”

      In a wide-ranging interview, Horgan confirmed the NDP still supports a moratorium on any new run-of-river power projects. If the NDP forms government, it would review the power-purchase agreements made by B.C. Hydro and private power producers in order to ensure they are in the “public interest”, according to him.

      “If it’s determined that they are not in the public interest, after the light of day has been shone upon them, then we would take action to rectify that. What that action is would depend on what the deficiencies are,” Horgan said.

      Horgan noted he helped draft the energy policy of the NDP government of former premier Mike Harcourt in the mid ’90s. However, that government never reconciled the economic activity created by the dams on the Peace River with the damage done to the communities. He said the same of the industrial activity around the Nechako River.

      “I would certainly be open to looking at a Peace River accord or a Nechako accord in the future,” Horgan said. “But when it comes to micro hydro, it was our position then, and it’s my position now, that if five-, 10- and 20-megawatt facilities can be established by the private sector more cost-effectively than they can be by B.C. Hydro—there are no fish implications and the generation is for local distribution and not for export to service the needs of air-conditioners and swimming pools in California—then that’s good public policy.”

      Regarding the Site C dam project, Horgan said he has seen firsthand the damage done to the communities of the northeast, and wants to see a proper environmental assessment.

      “They want some peace in the valley, and as long as the spectre of Site C hangs over their head, there’s never going to be a comfort level in the community,” Horgan said. “They want a full-fledged, full-on environmental assessment, so that they can put on the table the science of the sloughing, the costs of dredging, and the total costs on ratepayers of a $6- to $7- to $8- or even $9-billion project.”

      Last April, Premier Gordon Campbell and then-energy minister Blair Lekstrom announced the Site C dam project would move forward to the regulatory review phase, the third stage in a five-part planning and development process.

      Comments

      39 Comments

      RonS

      Jan 18, 2011 at 7:54pm

      It's about time someone said something about the sellout of our river systems to private corporations. There are other alternatives to Site C and run of river projects. Those should be explored extensively to ensure there aren't any more sellouts of our resources.

      Now let's hear something on the P3 sellouts!

      0 0Rating: 0

      tim.

      Jan 19, 2011 at 3:27am

      let's also talk about ideas on shifting how we use energy and what type of energy we use. you know, positive stuff as well. no more strictly anti-bc liberal rhetoric. let's hear some ideas, that's what the leadership race is for.

      MR

      Jan 19, 2011 at 12:57pm

      Mr Horgan has been the critic for long enough to realize that the province does not "sell" our rivers to power producers. These are leases that in time will expire. Mr Horgan also seems to demonize exports as not being in the public good. The export of our excess power, our lumber, our minerals, our natural gas is what pays for our schools, health care, parks, and roads. This basic concept seems to elude the NDP leadership, at the peril of everyone in BC.

      0 0Rating: 0

      Second Nation

      Jan 19, 2011 at 2:09pm

      Is this the NDP energy strategy?

      Ensure that enough businesses close so that no new power needs to be generated in BC?

      0 0Rating: 0

      RMH

      Jan 19, 2011 at 3:01pm

      I'm not anti-business, just anti-"development at all costs". Dams are dinosaurs from the past and a reflection of 1950's thinking. The world today is more aware of the impact of man on the environment and governments should be taking a balanced approach when addressing the economy.

      0 0Rating: 0

      Margaret Little

      Jan 19, 2011 at 3:20pm

      At last, someone who understands that the Peace River Valley has the potential for more than just power. We do not need to flood the Valley once again to create jobs or to provide power for export. There are many different strategies for businesses to make money without destroying valuable farm land.

      0 0Rating: 0

      Betty Bekkering

      Jan 19, 2011 at 3:35pm

      Whoo hoo John Horgan. I am a member of the NDP and you have my vote!

      Geza Vamos P.Eng Energy (Retired)

      Jan 19, 2011 at 6:03pm

      Good to see a politican not hypnotised by development, before being able to systematically evaluate the pros and cons.

      New electricity sources become ever more expensive, the low cost options long exhaused. The #1 energy resource in the world and BC, utterly ignored is Energy Efficiency. Current technology allows us to maintain curernt living standards with 75% to 90% less energy. In 1975 California, BC, and North America used the same amount of electricity per person. Today California uses HALF the electricity. Residential, commercial, and industrial power use can be economically reduced by 50% today. All we need to do is to adopt the building, appliance, and utilty standards, regulations, and incentives that California has. BC led the word in demand side management in 1990, PowerSmart Inc consulted in 20 countries. Then PowerSmart was neutered in the 1990's and has since, intentionally failed to implement a single significant effective program.

      0 0Rating: 0

      Carolyn Herbert

      Jan 19, 2011 at 6:17pm

      With climate change, we need to produce as much of our own food as possible. The Peace River valley is valuable for food production, at a time when we will be facing no imports from California and perhaps other parts of Canada and the world. Our survival depends on food, water and shelter - all else comes last.

      0 0Rating: 0

      Steve Y

      Jan 19, 2011 at 7:01pm

      I never hear any NDP candidate talk about how they are going to create jobs. They want to shut down billions of dollars of hydro development, billions of dollars of pipeline development, billions of dollars of tourism development and replace it with.... unemployment checks? How can anyone think of voting in these idiots?

      0 0Rating: 0