his afternoon’s Speech from the Throne confirmed the BC government’s disingenuous commitment to climate change solutions and authentically green options for power production, says a provincial energy watchdog organization.
Privatization boosters Campbell and Berman in Copenhagen 2009
Not the best route to "Green" power B.C. group says.
“An ideal electricity sector for British Columbia is a system that places the public good—that is, the interests of citizens, communities, and the environment—ahead of profit.” says Melissa Davis, executive director of BC Citizens for Public Power.
“Instead, this government is focused on giving free reign to private power producers, which will line the pockets of corporate shareholders at the expense of BC residents and the province’s rivers, wilderness, and wildlife.”
Davis rejects the government’s framing of its projects as environmentally responsible. “The Throne Speech included repeated references to ‘new investment,’ ‘simplified procurement protocols,’ a ‘new unified process for environmental assessment and permitting,’ and ‘opportunities for simplifying and expediting approval processes,’ Davis said. “There’s no real green agenda in fast-tracking innumerable private power project proposals.”
According to the Throne Speech, the provincial government also intends to “take a fresh look at BC’s regulatory regimes, including the BC Utilities Commission.” The BCUC delivered a controversial ruling last July, claiming that BC Hydro’s 2008 Long Term Acquisition Plan to purchase large quantities of private power was “not in the public interest.” Weeks later, the government issued a directive, effectively overruling the decision.
The government’s claims of economic benefits from its Energy Plan—repeated in today’s Throne Speech—have also come under fire, not only from environmentalists, but from business leaders. The Joint Industry Electricity Steering Committee reported in their submission to the Green Energy Advisory Task Force that the plan will cost BC taxpayers $450 million a year and $9 billion over the next 20 years, as BC Hydro is forced to purchase private power at inflated rates and export surplus power at a considerable loss.
In November, the government struck the Green Energy Advisory Task Force, ostensibly to advise the government on various aspects of its Energy Plan, including procurement, resource development, community engagement and First Nations partnerships. A six-week public consultation period, between late November and early January, invited email submissions from concerned citizens, organizations, and groups.
According to Davis, however, the Green Energy Advisory Task Force simply paid lip service to the notion of public consultation.
“Members consisted almost entirely of private power executives and associates, so the government’s energy policy continues to go unchallenged. Moreover, the government has refused multiple requests to publicize submissions received by the Task Force, and this lack of transparency is of serious concern to the public.”
“There are other options for how BC addresses the issue of climate change and considers green energy generation,” says Davis.
She points to a report released in December endorsed by over 25 environmental groups, Recommendations for Responsible Clean Electricity Development in British Columbia, as an example of an alternate approach. The recommendations include prioritizing energy conservation and efficiency, and limiting environmental, social and economic impacts.
Key for Davis and the BCCPP is that power produced in BC be publicly owned, regulated, and operated by and for the citizens of British Columbia—not as a product to be developed behind closed doors, and exported at the expense of the environment and the economy.
BC Citizens for Public Power, a provincial non-profit organization established in 2002, promotes and advocates for a publicly owned and integrated system of power production, transmission, and distribution to provide British Columbians with affordable, clean, reliable, and renewable energy.