With all the controversial information put out by B.C. Hydro, the B.C. government and others on the need for Site C, one wonders how any individual in BC could possibly know what is taking place.
This is not unusual because it is in the government's interest to muddy the waters (pun intended) so that most people are at best confused. So what do we know?
We know that the B.C. Utilities Commission found in the past that there was no need for Site C, and as a result this time around the B.C. government circumvented the BCUC and set up a government-appointed panel instead.
We know that in the past twenty years there have been huge closures of mines, pulp mills, paper mills, plywood plants, and lumber mills in B.C.
These are not just a few closures.
This was and still is a major downsizing of industry in B.C.
Some examples would be the closure of the Skeena Kraft pulp mill in Prince Rupert; the closure of Eurocan Pulp and Paper in Kitimat; the closure of the Abitibi paper mill in MacKenzie; the closure of the major coal mines in Tumbler Ridge; and the shutting down of the B.C. Rail Electric Railway from Anzac Tumbler Ridge. In addition we had the closure of the sawmills at Upper Fraser, Clear Lake, Bear Lake, The Pas Lumber, Rustad and North Central Plywood (burnt down and not rebuilt) plus many many more closures throughout the province.
In addition to the industry closures in B.C. at the same time the government was promoting independent power production throughout the province. Furthermore, many major pulp mills were producing a lot of their own power through co-generation, thus reducing their need for electricity from B.C. Hydro. Furthermore we had biomass electrical generation plants built in Williams Lake and Mackenzie.
So we have a huge downsizing in industry with very little new industry coming on stream but a government stating that we are facing a shortage of electricity in the not-too-distant future. This statement cannot be supported by any facts. We know as an example that if any of the LNG plants move forward they will generate their own electricity. So where is the shortage?
The short answer is there isn't a shortage. What we have is a need for a mega project to create some jobs, so that the present government can get re-elected.
Are we really prepared to move forward with a project of this nature that requires the flooding of 55 square kilometres of prime agricultural land; displacing First Nations and farmers; destroying the area for moose, deer, bear. eagles, fish, etc.; just to satisfy some political need? We need to keep in mind that this project will increase our rates for Hydro by some 28 per cent in the first four years, and go up from there.
Why can't we get common sense to prevail? We can as an example build a 400 megawatt (MW) natural gas-fired power generation station using natural gas fired combined cycle technology that will produce enough electricity to power 400,000 homes at a third of the cost of Site C. In fact we could build two of the plants, one in the Peace River area, and one in the Prince George area.
These plants could be built in a third of the time it will take to build Site C. So we would end up with sufficient power for our needs into the future, with the option of building a third plant if need be, and we save the Peace River Valley and all the farm land, and other problems that Site C brings with it. We have sufficient natural gas to run these plants for decades into the future, and if we go to another source of power, we can shut them down.
Once we have Site C and all the flooding that this entails we have it forever and cannot go back.
A 400 megawatt natural gas plant will create 300 to 400 full-time jobs during the three year construction phase and 35 or more full time jobs for operating the plant on an ongoing basis.
This is the type of project that IPG and the City should have been pushing for in the past, because it creates jobs in the immediate area of Prince George. This plant could be located in the Hart Industrial area, or perhaps south of P.G. around Stoner.
In any event, putting $8-9 billion in Site C to generate electricity is not needed. Perhaps we will sell it to the Americans, which isnot a good way to go.
We need the B.C. government and B.C. Hydro, to step back from this program and do some reevaluation.
Is this government big enough to make the necessary changes and cancel Site C?