Green giants: California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell meet at the United Nations climate summit in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2009. (Black Press files)

Green giants: California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell meet at the United Nations climate summit in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2009. (Black Press files)

B.C. VIEWS: Power politics wins over rational energy policy

B.C Hydro continues to face interference on rates

Look out, it’s another dumpster fire! No, not at ICBC. This one is at B.C. Hydro, where Energy Minister Michelle Mungall has dashed to the scene on the back of the NDP’s political emergency vehicle to put out another B.C. Liberal smouldering mess.

This one is independent power production, or “pirate power” as NDP stalwarts and Hydro’s office union used to call it when former premier Gordon Campbell was executing his vision for a cleaner, greener tomorrow. It’s costing us $16 billion extra over the next 20 years, according to Premier John Horgan’s hand-picked analysis.

Green energy plans, whether in Ontario or Germany or Australia, have a way of ending up as wreckage. Campbell’s plan suffered a head-on collision with reality around 2010, two years after B.C. led the world in imposing a carbon tax and declaring its path to clean energy self-sufficiency. Based on distributed, contracted hydro, wind and biomass, it included exporting the purest power from the Best Place on Earth to California, where Campbell and his pal Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger were envisioning a “hydrogen highway” to the future.

Then came the shale gas revolution, as detailed in the report from former NDP finance executive Ken Davidson, who chose the totally objective title “Zapped” for his findings. Abundant, cheap oil and natural gas transformed the U.S. energy scene, and California among other states shifted from coal to gas for electricity.

This is how the U.S. became the only one of the climate-posturing countries from the Paris summit in 2015 to actually produce a significant cut in greenhouse gas emissions. As with ratings for hosting the long-running TV reality show The Apprentice, Donald Trump beat Arnie hands down.

Campbell also didn’t anticipate the Great Recession that took hold in 2009. Some mill and mine investments never came back, and now B.C. Hydro estimates it will have surplus electricity into the 2030s.

RELATED: B.C.’s private power called big charge to hydro bills

RELATED: NDP needs ‘magic’ to meet climate targets, Weaver says

Neither B.C. Hydro nor the NDP seem to put much stock in the upsurge of electrification the government keeps talking about. And then there’s B.C. Green leader Andrew Weaver, who seems to have his own political hot mess.

As a climate scientist, Weaver was a supporter of distributed clean energy projects back in those days. He endorsed Campbell’s Site C dam too. But now he’s leading a party that would whip him with cooked kale if he uttered such blasphemy. Now he wants distributed green energy instead of Site C, and stay tuned for the next revision.

If Green Party folks were serious about greenhouse gases, they’d be calling for nuclear plants. But there’s no coherence to Green policy, and the public is beginning to understand that.

Clean Energy B.C., the private power industry group that represents run-of-river, solar, wind and geothermal investors, said “Zapped” played the familiar political game of using spot price in the electricity market to cast B.C.’s private power producers as overpriced.

“In [Davidson’s] report, there is a fundamental error in using an inaccurate and overly simplified proxy for the market price of electricity,” the group said in a statement. They also note they employ people, electrify remote Indigenous communities and pay more taxes than the oil industry in B.C.

Mungall promised no more political interference with B.C. Hydro rates, but oddly the next two years of proposed increases are far below the alleged annual impact of private power. That’s because they “wrote off” $1.1 billion in deferred B.C. Hydro debt, transferring it to taxpayers.

Tom Fletcher is B.C. legislature reporter and columnist for Black Press Media. Email: tfletcher@blackpress.ca


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislature

Just Posted

(Dave Ogilvie/Contributed)
Injured mountain biker rescued in West Kelowna

The mountain biker reportedly has a hip injury about 1 km up the Smith Creek Road trail

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed Eli Beauregard facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Asia Youngman (right) is pictured shooting another short film she wrote and directed titled Hatha. (Luba Popovic)
Peachland set to star in fantasy thriller film about N’xaxaitk’w — a.k.a. the Ogopogo

The film will follow an Indigenous teen as she navigates peer pressure, bullying and identity

Fruit farmers in the Okanagan and Creston valleys are in desperate need of cherry harvesters amid COVID-19 work shortages. (Photo: Unsplash/Abigail Miller)
‘Desperate’ need for workers at Okanagan cherry farms

Fruit farmers are worried they’ll have to abandon crops due to COVID-19 work shortages

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Jeanette Megens
KCR: Volunteering is sharing your story

Kelowna Community Resources shares stories of its volunteers in a weekly column

FILE – Most lanes remain closed at the Peace Arch border crossing into the U.S. from Canada, where the shared border has been closed for nonessential travel in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. The restrictions at the border took effect March 21, while allowing trade and other travel deemed essential to continue. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Feds to issue update on border measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents

Border with U.S. to remain closed to most until at least July 21

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

Jaimee Peters photo of a Willow Midwives helping with a birth. Willow closed its doors March 31 because of a shortage of midwives. (Contributed)
South Okanagan’s only midwifery to re-open this summer

Willow Community Midwives was forced to close because of a shortage of midwives

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

Gord with a mom and her young son outside Pathways which was defunded on May 31. (Facebook)
Gord Portman with a mom and her child outside of Pathways. The sign says it all about the difference Pathways has made in people’s lives. They were defunded by Interior Health on May 31.
Penticton man takes the plunge for the recovery house that helped save his life

Gord Portman said Discovery House and Pathways have been everything in his 1 year sobriety

Most Read