Ratepayers in British Columbia will be required to subsidize the electrical costs of the Enbridge project to the tune of millions of dollars per year. Intervenor Dr. Josette Wier’s request to subpoena Mr. Doug Little, Vice-president of BC Hydro to answer questions regarding the supply of electricity to the project, was turned down by the Joint Review Panel (JRP) last week.
One of the tasks of the JRP is to assess whether the Enbridge pipeline proposal is in the national interest. As such, Enbridge was asked to conduct a cost-benefit analysis. However, in that analysis, there is no mention of the cost to British Columbians for the supply of electricity to the proposed pipeline. In response to Ms. Wier’s request for this consideration, the JRP responded, “Electricity pricing and the construction and operation of power lines would be subject to provincial assessment processes and regulation and therefore are beyond the Panel’s mandate.“ Thus it is clear that they refuse to address this significant issue.
“The application is full of holes and this is a gaping one,” states Josette Wier, an independent intervenor based in Smithers. In her last Notice of Motion of September 24, 2012, Wier asked the Joint Review Panel to query BC Hydro on where the energy for the pipeline will come from.. “It struck me that while the application states the company will hook up to existing transmission lines, there is no analysis of whether the utility could provide for their demands, which are significant. The pumps for the pipeline will use 940 Gwhr/yr which is the equivalent of the consumption of about 85,000 households. Neither is there any mention of the $90 million upgrade of the transmission line from Prince George to Terrace to accommodate industrial needs.“
According to calculations from BC-based independent economists, ratepayers in British Columbia, as well as shareholders and debt guarantors of BC Hydro will be subsidizing the private interests of the Enbridge proposal by at least $50-70 million per year. The calculation of this subsidy is based on the rate currently charged to industrial consumers versus the estimated cost to build new electrical generating facilities, which is about double that rate, and includes the proposed Site C Dam and other independent power projects.
“Building Site C to serve industrial customers and then asking the ratepayers to shoulder the cost with increases to their hydro bills isn’t in the public interest,” states Andrea Morison, coordinator of the Peace Valley Environment Association.
With a total of seven proposed LNG plants in addition to several large mining projects, which also have significant energy requirements, there are good reasons to wonder how BC Hydro is going to face the demand, at what cost and who will pay. These questions are asked by reasonable, responsible residents of Northern British Columbia who are directly affected by the production, use and cost of power in BC.
The Joint Review Panel denied the subpoena on October 12, 2012. The decision can be viewed hereSubmitted by Josette Wier & Peace Valley Environment Association