BC Hydro responds to Dan Levin of The New York Times
Writing his recent article about the Site C hydropower project for the New York Times, Dan Levin wants you to know certain perspectives that have attracted his interest in the project. He doesn't want you to know much else. In fact, Mr. Levin's article leaves the reader wondering why on earth BC Hydro would even want to build this project.
Mr. Levin shares with you that the Peace River Valley is an agricultural oasis in northern Canada. He doesn't tell you that more than 99%, or 2.7 million hectares, of productive agricultural land in the region will be untouched by the project or that BC Hydro has created a $20 million fund to be invested in the region to enable greater overall productivity for the long term – an amount the independent environmental assessment Joint Review Panel called "generous".
He tells you that the project is experiencing "mounting opposition and legal challenges". He doesn't tell you that the courts have assessed and dismissed five cases to date, leaving three appeals and two unheard cases, or that four parties have withdrawn support for the previous legal actions.
He wants you to believe that the energy isn't needed. He doesn't tell you that independent projections show British Columbia’s population will grow by 25% in the next 20 years – or that this demand forecast is available publicly as it undergoes review by an independent utilities regulator.
He tells you there are cheaper energy alternatives and that the “economics are awful”. He doesn’t tell you that an independent environmental review concluded "Site C would be the least expensive of the alternatives, and its cost advantages would increase with the passing decades as inflation makes alternatives more costly".
Nor does he tell you that the only other low-cost option is to replace this source of clean, renewable energy with a fossil fuel – natural gas – and that even this option may not be low cost over the 100-year life of the project as commodity prices change and other financial costs aimed at reducing the world’s use of fossil fuels continue to climb.
He doesn't want you to know that the project has been assessed as having the lowest greenhouse gas emissions of any other option, with the exception of nuclear.
In fact, he neglects to mention that British Columbia is a global leader in fighting climate change, having implemented a carbon tax, as well as minimum requirements for B.C.'s electricity system to generate 93% clean, renewable energy (last year we generated 98% clean), for all new sources to be renewable, and for two-thirds of new demand to be met through conservation.
Even further, he doesn't tell you that BC Hydro achieves all of these benefits – as well as high reliability – while providing customers with electricity rates that are among the lowest in North America.
Why doesn't he tell you any of this? It's hard to say. He chose not to include a single quote from BC Hydro, the company building the project, despite having access to BC Hydro representatives, including an hour spent talking with BC Hydro's President and CEO, Jessica McDonald. Instead, he sought out and quoted an individual who held that position as CEO for a year, 23 years ago, as an authority who could help inform readers on the project. We’ll leave it to you to decide.
An abridged version of the above has been submitted as a letter to the New York Times editor.