First HST now Site C: what can you believe?

Can we believe what the government says about Site C?  Once again, actions do not match words.  The BC Government claims to urgently need the electricity from the proposed Site C project despite trade data from BC Stats that indicates BC is generally a net exporter of energy.  They claim Site C would be for domestic use, however, the February 2010 Throne Speech reveals their intentions to develop excess capacity for export.  Premier Campbell’s decision to proceed to Stage 3 of the proposed Site C mega-project contradicts both his own BC Agriculture Plan and BC Energy Plan.

The government and BC Hydro began the Site C consultation process claiming that we need the power for British Columbians.  Energy Minister Blair Lekstrom states we are a net importer of power the majority of the time, however, BC Stats shows BC to be a net exporter 7 of the last 11 years.  Furthermore, the trade data does not include the power from the Columbia River Treaty that goes to the United States.  The government fails to mention that the vast majority of BC’s power imports result from opportunistic electricity trading – BC imports cheap Alberta power at night when the demand is low and exports power when the demand and price are high.

February’s throne speech states intentions of “open[ing] up new capacity for clean power exports to Alberta, Saskatchewan and south of the border.”  However, they are trying to convince BC citizens of a demand for power by repeatedly saying we are a net importer. Following Premier Campbell’s press release stating we need Site C, Minister Lekstrom was quoted in The Globe and Mail (Apr. 21st, 2010) as saying “We’re an export province, we are blessed with an abundance of natural resources that we utilize. Forestry, mining, oil and gas … I think electrical generation can do the same thing.”  According to reporter Justine Hunter, Minister Lekstrom said that he is confident B.C. will overcome California’s objections to large hydro-electric dams.  What is the real story and why does it keep changing?

The BC Agriculture Plan states “all British Columbians should have access to safe, locally produced food” yet proceeding with the proposed Site C dam would greatly diminish the North’s ability to produce its own food.  The flooding of thousands of acres of prime agricultural land and displacement of farm and ranch families is in direct contradiction to The BC Agriculture Plan’s strategy of “preservation of agricultural land for future generations of farm and ranch families.”  The BC Energy Plan has a policy action that states “All new electricity generation projects will have zero net greenhouse gas emissions” yet, according to BC Hydro’s own estimates, the proposed Site C dam would produce the equivalent of 36,000 new vehicles on BC roads per year.

We know the story of the HST.  Can we believe what the government says about Site C?