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Unique newspaper coverage of local, regional and global topics - serious and light-hearted.


BC Hydro

Site C dam will take 70 years to pay off

November 17, 2016

The controversial Site C dam will take a full 70 years to pay off, and that’s if it sticks to its $8.8 billion budget. The government will get back no return before that - and by the time it is paid off, alternative sources of power may have made the dam obsolete.

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BC Hydro: from showcase to basket case

August 11, 2016

An in-depth analysis of why, over the last 15 years, BCHydro has gone from a major provincial asset to being a liability, at taxpayers’ expense. Laws put in place by the BCLiberal government of Gordon Campbell committed BCHydro to massive debt.

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Site C News

July 28, 2016

A compendium of news about the $8.8 billion Site C dam, a controversial hydroelectric project in the Peace River Valley. From protests, to construction progress, to agreements with First Nations and disagreements with farmers.

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Site C protestor injunction

March 10, 2016

Helen Knott explains the First Nations’ view of BC Supreme Court granting BCHydro an injunction to remove protestors from Site C dam site.

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How to ruin a public utility

February 25, 2016

Dermod Travis demonstrates why BCHydro makes big handouts to electricity-guzzling industry and what the political payback is. Is this how BCers want to pay for their public utility?

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Site C given the go-ahead to begin construction but…

July 23, 2015

The BC government has given approval for BC Hydro to begin construction on the Site C dam, despite pending lawsuits and a call for a two year moratorium on the dam.

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Site C Dam approval: environmental factors, challenges

March 5, 2015

Despite approval, the Site C dam poses a number of environmental concerns and possible violations to First Nations treaty rights.

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Site C Approval: Part 1: economic questions

February 19, 2015

The approval of the Site C dam is being opposed by economists. The budget is skyrocketing, alternatives are being developed, and the energy demand is being questioned.

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Site C legacy — wealth destruction

June 12, 2014

Site-C dam: not a cost effective way of producing electricity? Will it drain BC rather than replenish it?

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Site C dam review: not yes, not no…

May 15, 2014

The joint BC/federal panel found that there will be significant damage to the environment and to First Nations, and that damage cannot be mitigated. BC Hydro’s figures cannot be believed, the panel says, and it wants to pass the hot potato back to BCUC, but the BC government says, no.

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Meters are not reporting and are not being read manually

April 17, 2014

BCHydro’s meters are far from smart. People are receiving estimated bills without being told they are estimates. You really have to go round the back and read your own and then call BCHydro. Good luck!

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Have your say on BCHydro’s new directions

Sept 12, 2013

BCHydro’s future plans: no new IPP deals; support LNG industry; Site C & conservation. You have a chance to comment now.

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BCHydro CEO admits $70 billion obligation

July 4, 2013

CEO Charles Reid BCHydro’s high liabilities backed by unreported $100billion value on aging assets.

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Time to comment on Site C impacts

February 14, 2013 | Sara Miles

Yet another energy project is in play. BC Hydro’s Environmental Impacts Statement for the ‘Site C Clean Energy Project’ is on the table. Public comment is open until April 4. The project involves construction of a dam and a 1,100-megawatt hydroelectric generating station on the Peace River in northeastern BC. It would be the third in a series of dams on the BC portion of the Peace River.

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Gulf Islands will soon join modern grid

October 4, 2012 | Sara Miles

With smart meter install dates looming, questions over wireless technology are just one controversy surrounding the plan to bring BC’s electrical grid into the 21st century.

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BCHydro planning for LNG and Site C

June 28, 2012 | Tom Hackney

BCHydro’s draft Integrated Resource Plan incorporates plans for up to three new LNG plants, creating a need for much more electricity, which is to come from the Site C dam, new clean energy producers, and conservation measures.

On the other hand, the Premier's recent declaration that natural gas-generated electricity used for liquefaction of export gas is redefined as 'clean' may mean that Site C won't be needed after all.

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BC government dictates electricity rates

May 31, 2012 | Tom Hackney

Tom Hackney explains how the BC government has undermined the authority of the BC Utilities Commission by arbitrarily cutting electricity rate increases in half—is this viable or is it an election ploy?

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Time of use billing on the way?

October 6, 2011 | Patrick Brown

Smart meters would make it possible, but BC Hydro says it will not make time of use pricing mandatory. Ontario's time of use rates offer a glimpse of where we might be heading, however.

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Another billion buck boondoggle

August 25, 2011 | Editorial

Why British Columbians have the feeling that the Smart Meter Initiative would not stand close scrutiny.

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Once over lightly for BChydro

August 25, 2011 | Patrick Brown

Commentary on the 'lightweight' Review of BChydro.

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Smart meters should come last, say BC Greens

August 11, 2011 | Christa Grace-Warrick

BC Green Leader Jane Sterk says there are other measures that BC Hydro should implement before considering a new metering system, and that any new meters should be wired to mitigate safety and privacy concerns.

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Smart meters: a solution looking for a problem

Augsut 11, 2011 | Patrick Brown

Patrick Brown examines the numbers and questions the economic justification for BC Hydro's smart meter program.

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Smart meters rolling out soon

June 30, 2011

Details about BC Hydro's plan to start installing smart meters in the province this summer.

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Bute run-of-river project on hold

April 7, 2011

Following Plutonic's merges with a geo-thermal company, the new company Alterra announced that there was no firm contract with BCHydro to purchase power, so the Bute Inlet project is on hold.

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BCHydro rate increase up in the air

April 7, 2011

Citing the need for upgrading of generation and distribution facilities, BCHydro has proposed big annual rate increases. However, now that Gordon Campbell has gone, Minister Rich Coleman is taking a second look.

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BCHydro justifies smart meters—mainly grow-ops

March 24, 2011

A key part of the business case for installing wireless smart meters province-wide is to defeat marijuana grow-ops. BCUC is legislated not to look at the figures.

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What the Annual Report tells us, Part 3: How BC power purchases subsidize big industry

October 14, 2010

BC Hydro is suffering a triple whammy: paying higher than market prices on its long-term contracts, paying green power prices for traditional power, and losing money on its power trading operations.

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BC Hydro losses, from today to tomorrow

September 16, 2010

An in depth look at BCHydro's accounting practises.

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When is a loss a profit? Auditor General questions BC Hydro accounting

September 2, 2010

BC Hydro's creative accounting has turned an operating loss of $249 million into a profit of $447 million. This $696 million would have shown up as an addition to the provincial deficit. Special Cabinet Directives authorize the 'rate-regulated' method but the Auditor General has reservations about the practice.

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The conundrum of Site-C

March 4, 2010

The Site-C dam is back in the picture - and the public pocket. It is needed to support power produced privately for BC Hydro. Who gains? Read the ins and outs of this convoluted situation.

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BC Hydro and IPPs

February 18, 2010

Two articles and an editorial examine the conflicts between BC Hydro and private power companies.

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Goodbye to dividends from BC Hydro

December 17, 2009

No dividend to the Province this year from BC Hydro. This marks the change in the purpose of the utility from providing cheap electricity to BC residents and industries to financing privately-generated power and marketing it to the United States.

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Follow the money: some ins and outs of IPP power

December 17, 2009

BC Hydro initiates discussion on several run-of-river power projects.

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Premier takes direct control of energy policy

November 19, 2009

Not agreeing with watchdog BC Utilities Commission's decisions on power planning, Premier Campbell has announced task forces reporting to Cabinet to plan BC's future power. Why the takeover?

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BCUC cannot rely on Burrard Thermal

November 5, 2009

The BC government has told the 'independent' BC Utilities Commission that it cannot count gas-fired Burrard Generating Station power (used as a peak-period stopgap) in its calculations of future power needs. The effect will be to force BC Hydro to put out more calls for power from Independent Power Producers which will include contentious run-of-river power.

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Exporting BC power to California is not that simple, yet

September 24, 2009

Under California's regulations BC's dam power and run-of-river are not green enough. Yet the state needs BC power; will it compromise its standards?

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Salt Spring Microhydro

June 18, 2009

Wintertime run-of-creek hydro could provide a portion of Salt Spring's local renewable energy plan.

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Bute Inlet power project will have cumulative environmental impacts

January 15, 2009

A multi-site, ‘run-of-river’ power, super-project has been proposed by Plutonic Power Ltd for creeks and rivers emptying into the upper Bute Inlet. The scale of transmission lines illustrate both problems of economies of scale and environmental effects in massive power developments.

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One river: less endangered now?

April 3, 2008

Before BC Environment Minister Barry Penner effectively pulled the plug on a private company plan to build a series of hydro-power installations along creeks that feed into the Upper Pitt River and a transmission line through a provincial park, the BC Recreation Council had labelled the river (40 kilometres from Vancouver) BC’s most endangered river.

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Our Wattage Sold For a Mess of Pottage

January 24, 2008 | Book Review by Patrick Brown

In Liquid Gold, John Calvert’s central theme is that British Columbian’s birthright, BC Hydro’s integrated system of large hydro-electric dams, power lines, and distribution strategies, dating from the WAC Bennett era and charging some of the cheapest electricity rates in North America, is being destroyed.

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Halfway to an energy plan

November 29, 2007 | Patrick Brown

The BC government’s 2007 Energy Plan’s themes are: energy conservation, energy efficiency, and self-sufficiency. It is starting to have an impact on residential rates electricity; in a recent report BC Utilities Commission (BCUC) authorized the ‘rebalancing’ of electricity rates between types of power consumers.

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Why You Should Change Your Power Consumption

April 5, 2007 | Commentary by Patti Bauer

Many of us believe that BC Hydro is one of the cleanest and greenest public utilities in the world.

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Editorial: Blind to blind trust?

February 8, 2007

The issue of Premier Campbell knowing that he held Alcan shares at the time that he was dealing with Alcan over the company’s proposed sale of power to BC Hydro has received a good deal of media interest.

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Electricity Across the Border

August 24, 2006 recent years, BC has profited a great deal from selling power to the US, particularly in times when US demand exceeds its domestic supply.

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VITR Decision Appealed

August 24, 2006

Citizens’ groups and power transmission competitor SeaBreeze have lodged three appeals of the BC Utilities Commission’s (BCUC) July 7 approval of the BC Transmission Corporation’s (BCTC) application to replace the existing direct current overhead power transmission line to Vancouver Island with a new alternating current transmission line.

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BCSEA has Mixed Reaction to New Hydro Projects

August 10, 2006

The BC Sustainable Energy Association (BCSEA) welcomes the prospect of BC’s first commercial wind projects, but vows ‘P-4’ (prolonged and persistent public protest) against the two coal-fired power projects announced as winners in the Call for Power to supply the BC Hydro grid.

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BCUC Rules VITR will be Overhead

July 27, 2006

It’s overhead wires—again—for the new electrical transmission line to Vancouver Island.

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Powerline Battle Continues

March 23, 2006

The battle between the BC Transmission Corporation and SeaBreeze to transmit power to Vancouver Island continues at both the BC Utilities Commission hearings and in preliminary skirmishes...

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Sea Breeze Sideswiped at BCUC Hearing

March 9, 2006

Sea Breeze Victoria Converter Corporation has unexpectedly withdrawn its application for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity for its Vancouver Island Cable (VIC) project.

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Power Waiting

March 9, 2006 | Wendy Hacking

There are the short ones and then there are the long ones. You never really know when one is going to happen. Of course, there can be signs. Wind, not surprisingly.

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Limited Comment for Toba River Hydro Scheme

February 9, 2006 | Patrick Brown

Despite an environmental review period that could stretch as long as 180 days, public comment on two run-of-river hydroelectricity generation proposals near the head of Toba Inlet is to be limited to one month.

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Salt Spring Town Hall Meeting Seeks Power Line Alternatives

January 19, 2006

A lively ‘town hall’ meeting on Salt Spring Island on Saturday, January 7, saw opponents of the construction of a new high voltage power line across the Island out in force.

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Islanders Fear Power Plant Cancellation May Accelerate Transmission Line Replacement

July 14, 2005

Many Salt Spring and Galiano Island residents now fear that cancellation of Duke Point will increase pressure for a quick approval of new souped-up overhead transmission lines which would cross both islands.

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Salvaging Meaning from the Duke Point Fiasco

June 30, 2005 | Patrick Brown

Was the real reason from Hydro<’>s sudden retreat that neither Hydro nor the provincial goverment wanted the Appeal Court judges enquiring whether <‘>commerical confidentiality<’> could be maintained when government functions were privitized?

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Hydro Abandons Duke Point Proposal

June 30, 2005

The Duke Point gas-fired generating plant proposal is no more.

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Duke Point Approval will be Appealed

February 24, 2005 | Patrick Brown

An appeal of BCUC’s February 17 approval of BC Hydro’s Duke Point plans for fossil-fuel generated energy for Vancouver Island is underway.

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Shenanigans at BCUC Hearings

February 10, 2005 | Patrick Brown

A motion by GSXCCC and other intervenors to disqualify members of the BC Utilities Commission Panel from hearing the application for approval of the Duke Point Power project was rejected...

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Duking It Out Over Vancouver Island’s Power Supply

January 27, 2005 | Patrick Brown

Hearings by the BC Utilities Commission (BCUC) into the proposed Duke Point Power (DPP) gas-fired electricity generation plant got underway...

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January Hearings on Duke Point Electricity Generation

December 16, 2004 | Patrick Brown

The BC Utilities Commission (BCUC) will hold oral hearings and town hall sessions in Nanaimo...

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BCUC Will Consider Latest BC ‘Privatization’

December 2, 2004 | Patrick Brown

In order to revive the Duke Point gas-fired generation project, BC Hydro is entering into a cost plus contract with the Duke Point Power Limited Partnership (DPP)...

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Figuring Out the Hydro Bill

December 2, 2004

Subject to acceptance by the Commission, the proposed final rate increase will be 4.85%...

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September 23, 2004

GS-X-The Beat Goes On

Williams Pipelines, BC Hydro’s partner in the proposed construction of the Georgia Strait Crossing natural gas pipeline, continues to pursue permits for the pipeline on the US side of the border. And BC Hydro continues to entertain bids for natural gas turbine-generated power on Vancouver Island.

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GS-X Pipeline Possibility Fading

July 29, 2004 | Patrick Brown

Although BC Hydro is still receiving tenders (until August 13) for the provision of additional electricity to Vancouver Island and most plans of BC Hydro’s qualified bidders are predicated on using natural gas as fuel, it seems increasing unlikely that any gas will be delivered by the Georgia Strait Crossing (GS-X) pipeline...

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Hydro Rate Increase Would Be More, Sooner

April 22, 2004

BC Hydro has filed a revision to its original revenue requirements application with the BC Utilities Commission (BCUC) that includes a request for a revised rate increase of 8.9% in 2005...

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Hydro’s Flawed Call for Tenders and Other Electric News

February 26, 2004 | Patrick Brown

The BC Utilities Commission rejected Hydro’s proposal for a gas turbine generation plant at Duke Point because BCUC thought that it was not the most economic way to obtain additional electricity for Vancouver Island...

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Vancouver Island Power—la plus ça change…

December 4, 2003 | Patrick Brown

On September 8, the BC Utilities Commission (BCUC) rejected BC Hydro’s Vancouver Island Generation Plan (VIGP) for Duke Point at Nanaimo...

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The GSX Report—Half a Job

August 14, 2003 | Patrick Brown

A 229-page report on the gas pipeline proposed to cross the Georgia Strait was produced by the National Energy Board/Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency Joint Review Panel...

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New Tenders to Compete with GSX/VIGP

December 18, 2003 | Patrick Brown

At the conclusion of the BC Utilities Commission hearings in Nanaimo on July 3, BC Hydro proposed to call for firm tenders for alternative ways to provide for Vancouver Island’s future electricity needs.

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NorskeCanada Introduces New Power Plan for Vancouver Island; Claims Hydro Tried to Suppress It

April 24, 2003

Pulp mill operator NorskeCanada, the largest consumer of electricity on Vancouver Island, has proposed a plan to generate power at its plants, and save power it presently uses.

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Green Power Proposals Swamp Hydro

April 10, 2003

BC Hydro has agreed to consider 30, out of an original 70, proposals from independent power producers for its 2002/03 Green Power Generation (GPG) procurement process.

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GSX Hearing Begins

January 30, 2003

After several months’ delay waiting for the completion of consultations with local First Nations, the National Energy Board/ Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency hearings on the proposed Georgia Strait Crossing (GSX) gas pipeline are to resume...

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GSX Questioned in Whatcom County

February 28, 2002

According to a report in the Bellingham Herald, the Bellingham environmental group RE Sources wants the proposed natural gas pipeline across Whatcom County (Washington State) to be put on hold...

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GSX Panel Revises List of Issues

February 14, 2002

The NEB/CEAA Joint Review Panel for the proposed Georgia Strait gas pipeline has clarified its original List of Issues to include many of the environmental issues raised during a series of public meetings in January.

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BC Hydro Zeros in on Nanaimo

February 14, 2002

BC Hydro and Calpine Canada Power Holdings Ltd, still looking for a friendly host-municipality for its proposed second gas-fired generating station, has now set its sights on the Duke Point area of Nanaimo.

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The GSX Files

January 31, 2002

BC Hydro’s dependence on Vancouver Island gas-fired electricity generation plans is confirmed in the Interim Report published by the province’s Energy Policy Task Force...

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