Find out tomorrow.  And let the storms begin.
Premier Horgan is set to announce the Site “C” decision at 11:30, Monday December 11, 2017.
All over politic-ville, people are writing two stories:  A. If Yes; B. If no. All critical of everyone involved.  As to watching for heads to explode — the most-watched head will be that of Andrew Weaver.


  1. Horgan’s long winded statement in a nutshell: “With a $4B cancellation cost incl money spent already it makes indeed far more sense to proceed than to cancel it. “
    Unclear why Dr. Weaver opposes the cleanest of all clean energy projects ?

    1. Because it isn’t actually needed? Because there are other ways of getting that power without flooding green farmland? Because spending 12 billion to avoid wasting 4 is dubious logic? Because BC Hydro will soon have to update its accounting to actually account for these unfunded liabilities, and when it does, will appear to be significantly less solvent than currently shows, at which point its borrowing costs will increase and we will have to pay more for the privilege of paying more. Because even the 8 billion (this is using estimates of likely cost overruns) leftover which isn’t wasted could be used to buy more than SiteC’s worth of solar, to be spent as needed and taking advantage of an ever dropping cost of solar. Because with that same 8 billion one could retrofit enough houses to save the energy that siteC would produce (and produce a hell of a lot of construction jobs in the process), and therefore make siteC moot (a watt saved is = to a watt generated).
      … Its a bit of a long list … do you want more?

      1. Because $4B have to be written off fast, raising electricity rates substantially for 10 years, whereas $10B invested creates an asset that lasts 100+ years and that is depreciated at 70 years on the BC Hydro books ( Rationale to 70 years see here )
        The money to be borrowed is cheap, sub 3% i.e. the cash invested creates an asset with almost perpetual income .. and CLEAN energy to boot.
        5100 GWh of power annually at 5 cents per kwh is $255M in revenue generated, or 2.5% on $10B invested, roughly equivalent to the cost of money. At 8 or 10 cents that math gets a lot better, with revenues of 400-500M annually. Dams can also be used to store energy, and can be turned on or off fairly fast allowing on-peak sales of power at far far higher rates, or turning it off for weeks on sunny or windy days when solar capacity or wind capacity is plentiful [ not that BC has all that much of it, btw ] . Other states like CA or countries like Denmark [ which still uses 50%+ coal for its power ] would be salivating for such a dam.
        As such the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade celebrated the decision.
        “Affirming the construction of Site C is the right decision for the future of our province,” said Iain Black, board president and CEO. “Assuring a domestic source of clean, reliable hydroelectric power helps secure our energy system for the growth of businesses and sectors of the Lower Mainland and provincial economy for decades into the future.”
        Black said the decision was the “ responsible fiscal decision” for B.C taxpayers. He said the project will provide an economic boost for northern B.C.
        “For decades, our province has benefited from reliable hydroelectric power. In fact, many resource industries in British Columbia today are built on this competitive advantage, and many new industries, such as the burgeoning tech sector, stand to benefit moving forward,” said Black. “As our economy continues to grow and change, building reliable, new energy infrastructure is critical to provide the certainty that our industries and businesses need to invest and expand.”

    1. Hah. 80-90%… That’s the grid feed cost.
      You still need to pay for transmission and with grid solar, eventually you have to pay for storage if you get enough market penetration. Take a look at Tesla in Kauai for what a fully solar grid looks like. It’s still more expensive that what you pay in BC.

        1. Not all so sunny in Germany with VERY HIGH electricity prices and massive opposition to wind energy in some areas like Bavaria. One new term coined is “energy poverty”. One reason AfD won so many seats (almost 100 out of 700 in German parliament) and Angela Merkel & her coalition partner SPD lost so many seats in the fall election is the expensive energy policies (among other reasons like unregulated immigration)

  2. This is a tough one. Looking back the decision process was flawed, but we have gone so far down the road now. Flushing $4 billion away is just too much waste. It’s a shame pipelines are muddying relations between BC and AB, otherwise selling Site C’s excess power to help Alberta to get them off fossil fuel plants would have been a win.

      1. The Times Colonist article needs rebuttal, and I hope agronomist Wendy Holm steps up.
        Not mentioned in the article is that Holm’s major study spoke in terms of the future potential of a minority of Class 1-5 arable soils covering only 1,666 hectares of the 12,760 that exist in very unique conditions: In a valley sheltered from the wind with more growing season sunlight (due to its northern latitude). The corn roasts and hay fields that existed there until very recently were nowhere near the land’s potential food-producing capability. Moreover, she estimated the farm gate receipts at a maximum of one billion dollars a year based on its high crop growth potential, and extended the review over 100 years. With proper management, the soils could retain their quality for even longer periods, or even be enhanced through conservation tillage and crops that fix nutrients and add more organic material than they take out.
        However, the damage has been done thanks to Christy Clark who rushed this project into development without even a BC Utilities Board review. Keep in mind that the initial justification that was not widely advertised was for the environmental and economic perversity of selling the power to northern BC frackers at highly subsidized rate that ordinary domestic users would never see. That is, until the world market conditions kicked in and LNG fell on its face.
        The new government was faced with a terrible choice regarding public finances, environmental damage and Indigenous contempt over the violation of their constitutional rights on land they never ceded or sold, and it was based on getting a return on the larger expenditure to finish the project, rather than writing off the billions spent so far. I should hope that their announcement would be followed up soon with a decision to never dam another river valley in BC, and to direct BC Hydro to pursue geothermal, wind (a fabulous renewable resource in the Peace), tidal and solar power in future.

        1. I agree the ban on future large dams should be (should have been) made simultaneously but it’s like closing the barn door.
          The decision to go ahead with this absurd project means there will be no reason to pursue alternatives for a very very long time. The dam dam will all but kill R&D and investment in anything else as this expensive glut of power will still drive down market price and make it difficult to compete. No doubt the government will create policy to force out competition to keep rates as high as possible to try to recover the cost – if it’s even possible. Hogan made the wrong decision but it’s hard to blame him.

        2. One way to justify keeping rates fair and using much of the power generated at the currently-useless Site C would be to increase demand through public policy over time. I believe a great amount of future demand will come from three external events:
          – the decision by China, Germany and a handful of other populous countries so far to ban the internal combustion engine by 2030 to fight climate change
          – the announcements by now five major car manufacturers to tool up in a big way for electric vehicles, notably Volvo for going all-EV after 2019
          – the successful results of deep research into solid state lithium by Toyota and at least two other companies
          Demand could be further increased internally by building more electric transit accompanies by increased energy efficiency in transit-oriented development through an updated building code, and by offering more energy conversion grants to convert home heating away from gas and toward high-efficiency heat pumps and ground exchange heating / cooling systems.

  3. Every generation has their moment when their lovable politician lets them down, after they have elected them. They feel betrayed and disillusioned. This is the *new* BCNDP moment.

    1. NDP never promised to cancel it. They just promise to review it which they did. Good move for blue collar champion Mr. Horgan. Bravo. Dr. Weaver: not so much. What’s not to like about super clean hydro ?

    2. Governing means hard choices. Government should never take lightly just flushing $4 billion of taxpayers money away. It seems there was healthy debate within the NDP caucus over the dam and that’s good. However, Horgan really should have rolled out some green initiatives at the same time to soften the blow: rebates to convert to electric heat, money for charging stations etc.

      1. Seems to me this was a really tough decision.
        Faced with throwing away $4 billion (and without looking at the environmental impact at all) it was still a tough decision. Hmmmm….
        If we weren’t throwing away $4 billion it would be an easy decision. The decision would be not to build. No matter the limitations of the rushed BCUC report, it is only the write-off of $4 billion that brought this destructive project to a draw. And that’s crossing fingers that the cost won’t escalate dramatically as it has with most new dams. And it’s also ignoring the economic losses of the environmental destruction.
        We can blame Mrs. Past-the-point-of-no-return. Don’t forget where the foolhardy decision originated. This exercise only proves it was a reckless one.

        1. Indeed. The only time to have made the “right” decision passed two years before Mr. Horgan became premier. Beyond that you have weeks of hair-splitting over the massive costs of both keeping it or killing it. The decision must have caused immense friction in cabinet, but was ultimately won by one additional hair added to the Keep side in their view.

  4. The NDP have no ability to ‘cancel’ it, only to fratiricidally postpone it. They will only be in power for another 40 months and the next administration would certainly revive it, castigating the NDP for cost escalations that were directed caused by their delay.
    The timing is great for labour sourced from Alberta, reeling from it’s current administration. That election will come up sooner.

    1. And in less than 12 months BC voters will have a good shot at approving proportionality in our otherwise flawed political system through a referendum. That on top of already eliminating big money in politics, something that corrupted the BC Liberals to the point of deafness and blindness to everything other than their corporate donor’s wishes for 16 years. Even their own donors were complaining about the pressure, especially when all that money didn’t get them any return this time. Maybe they should get a refund.
      So in 40 months the 60% of voters who do not cast ballots for the Libs have a good shot at voting in the first of many centre-left coalition governments over the decades. Many more mature democracies have been highly successful, and negotiation with other parties is normal and expected, despite a small minority of countries with much harder divisions. If a slate of Green or NDP members were invited into a Liberal cabinet, chances are the housing affordability crisis would not have been allowed to grow into a massive problem, and there would be far more rental housing, transit and renewable power to offset the terrible economics and environmental record of fracking and freeways.
      In that regard, it’s a good thing that the NDP got through this Site C decision without the Greens taking them down (it was no doubt very close to the line). That was probably the hardest issue to come between them, and will be for the foreseeable future. On that note we will see a stable and prosperous future not tied down by the roller coaster over-reliance on raw resources or willful ignorance of social conditions that required fixing years ago (e.g. homelessness).

  5. The use of gravity to produce electricity is perhaps the singular most elegant idea ever applied to the human propensity for mechanical, electromagnetic, and electronic inventions that serve countless human needs and desires. Of course it is all a big trick, we used to get along just fine before electricity was discovered. But having “seen the light” there is no turning back………………………

    1. You could say the same about coal. Cheaper and easier to build coal fired electricity than a big complicated dam. But you’re right that there’s no going back. Humans move forward and find better ways to do things even as conservatives fight kicking and screaming the whole way.
      If we were all conservatives we wouldn’t have moved out of the caves. Progressives progress.
      Too bad we’re still defaulting to the old ways for this one big bad mistake.

    2. I’d say the most elegant idea is to use electricity (sun) to create electricity, and skip the middleman.
      The second most elegant solution is to use heat energy to create electricity, again, skipping some middleman.
      The paddlewheel was a nice elegant example of your elegant inventions … the moment you have to create a big dam or slice through the wilderness to make it work, it inevitably loses some/much of that elegance, unless you call any of this ‘pretty’

      1. “I’d say the most elegant idea is to use electricity (sun) to create electricity”, please explain how this is possible. Where do you think solar cells come from? Solar cells do not beget more solar cells.
        “The second most elegant solution is to use heat energy to create electricity”, please explain the source of this ‘magical’ heat energy.
        The last really big dam in BC was created during the last ice age about 12,000 years ago. We live on a planet in a solar system in a galaxy where gravitational forces, plate tectonics, earthquakes, climate change and the evolutionary forces of the biosphere form our physical environment to which to whit we have added a very thick layer of technology which consumes enormous amounts of energy. We don’t need to live in the temperate zones of the planet which is main reason for our intensive use of energy, we could live in the topical zones where the fruit falls off the trees.

        1. Apparently hydro electric dams just wish themselves into existence. There’s no reason why solar power can’t be used to build solar panels.

        2. Site C is being built using fossil fuels.
          Solar cells are constructed from common and rare earth materials mined from places all over the planet, refined, transported, formed, fabricated, distributed etc, using copious amounts of fossil fuel in the process. A true full cost of energy accounting of everything that goes into a kwh solar call might reveal that solar energy is more costly and more environmentally damaging than constructing the equivalent hydro electric project.

        3. It might. Show me the numbers.
          Meanwhile you can’t improve much on the embodied energy of a dam. Since the best sites were exploited long ago it’s likely only to get worse per watt. Whereas improvements in solar cell efficiency just keeps getting better (and cheaper) and it seems likely that more benign, plentiful and local materials will eventually be found to work.
          Solar is the (a) future. Dams are so last century.

        4. +1 to Ron … solar power to build solar power, and one relatively small solar-powered solar factory can build a whole lot of solar power, whereas one large dam is always one large dam. One scales, one doesn’t.
          Its not magic, its Physics, but it is understandable that these get confused. Google ‘Thermoelectric’ or T’hermionic converter’ [this is one fun link ] … or with a bit more of a footprint (and correspondingly less elegance), you can do Stirling engine, or Geothermal … which is more elegant, a dam or the Blue Lagoon?
          As for your move to the tropics, have you done the math on cooling loads and cooling efficiency? Its easier to go up than down. Also … there’s this:
          Corresponding to that climate heating thing, temperate Vancouver tends to become balmy Vancouver, and chilly Site C becomes temperate Site C … the elegant thing is to use that newfound temperate-ness for growing food, and go elsewhere for the energy.
          With the same $ as Site C, you could also insulate houses across BC so that the energy created by Site C was actually saved – and available for use elsewhere (a watt saved is exactly the same value as a watt produced) … you know what a truly elegant energy production strategy is? Not needing to produce the energy in the first place.
          And as we have all these dams already, they make great places to store electricity, as instead of being released once, you can have one little dam using the water over and over whenever you need, this way we get to do your ‘most elegant’ thing over and over and over instead of just once, that’s really quite elegant to me.

        5. … and just to blow up this statement a bit:
          “Solar cells are constructed from common and rare earth materials mined from places all over the planet, refined, transported, formed, fabricated, distributed etc, using copious amounts of fossil fuel in the process. A true full cost of energy accounting of everything that goes into a kwh solar call might reveal that solar energy is more costly and more environmentally damaging than constructing the equivalent hydro electric project.”
          Let me:
          1) ask for your math.
          2) introduce you to the concept of the organic solar cell:
          3) introduce you to the idea that it is no more costly (environmentally) to make solar materials than it is many standard building materials, so one can (and people have) clad their buildings in solar for little different cost ($ or environmental) than cladding it in other things … here’s my favorite recent example
          4) where’s your math again? … here’s mine:

        6. And a bit more math (which will require Ken to moderate this message since it contains too many links):

          “To be truly 100% green solar panels need to be recycled at the end of their life. Proper dismantling is especially important for CdTe panels because they contain cadmium. Also recycling makes sure that all resources (including any rare earth element) is reused. So far very few panels have been recycled, but luckily more and more companies are starting to address this issue.
          Despite these drawbacks, energy from solar panels is significantly cleaner than fossil fuels.”

          Everything we do has costs … its quite elegant when things also have benefits, and its even more elegant when those benefits outweigh the costs.

        7. There is no need to guess which energy sources are superior in terms of CO2 reduction. The Life-cycle greenhouse-gas emissions of energy sources has been calculated and can be seen here:

          The table shows that median solar costs 48gm/kwh while median hydro costs 24 gm/kwh. Table shows that hydro installations are extremely variable, ranging from 1 to 2200 gm/khw. Coal is very high in comparison, with median coal costing 820 gm/kwh. There is some literature about hydro reservoirs generating CO2 and methane due to decomposition of organic matter, but I can’t find good numbers for this.

            “The decision to proceed with the Site C project taken by our government today is not a happy one.
            The strategies of the previous government to avoid oversight and push the project “past the point of no return” with the hope, achieved, of visiting financial ruin on the books of any government that would seek to cancel it, are unforgivable.”

        8. That 24g/kWh is also higher than what BC Hydro produces. Earthen dams and temperate reservoir climates cause much lower emissions. I’ve seen estimates as low as 4g/kWh.

      2. Sun makes sense were it is sunny. Hydro makes sense where there is decent water flow with little environmental disruption or with big recreational potential. Wind makes sense were it is windy and remote. Geothermal makes sense where it is hot in the earth.
        In BC, with sometimes dubious, always costly and usually lengthy native litigation over almost ANY major project these days we need to assess the cost of doing business and the lengthy delay of ANY major project. As such, once a project is finally approved after 2 decades of planning and engineering we ought to push it through as another project, be it a wind farm, or a major geothermal project will take 25+ years too from plan to getting power in BC !
        With only $2500 per BCer for a major dam for major clean power that lasts 100+ years I’d say that is $10B well invested ! Very well.
        Where else will the power for 1M EVs come from ?

        1. Haha, now we only need another 3-5 projects of the same size to meet our 2030 climate commitments. 17,000 GWh – 25,000 GWh will be required per year.
          That number is coming straight from the BCUC report.

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