One of the crime scenes

Saturday, February 09, 2013



Illustration from Province online (Nick Procaylo/PNG FILES)

Back in the early years of the new millennium, a neighboring village here in the Kootenays decided to look into developing hydro power, as a village project, from the large glacier fed creek that flows through the village. At the time there seemed to be problems with getting BC Hydro to co-operate in the installation of infrastructure to enable connecting to the grid (which hereabouts isn't as much a grid as the end of the string of xmas tree lights) to allow selling any surplus power. Even more disturbing though, was the discovery that someone (likely a favored BC Liberal "friend") from elsewhere had already been granted the rights to hydro development on their creek.

Since that time I've looked into the scam a lot and engaged in various activities from following Gordon Campbell and Lara Dauphinee's trip to California (just before Capo Gordo was forced to resign) which failed to convince the state legislature that IPP Rape of the River power was green, to being involved in the effort to successfully force AXOR to abandon (for now anyway) its hideously unnecessary and destructive Glacier/Howser project. I've also from time to time checked out the state of the spot market and watched as BC Hydro consistently has been forced to sell power it didn't need but was forced by the BC liaRs to purchase and then sell at a fraction of its cost to the US.

Fast forward to today, when we now find that BC Hydro is contractually obligated to buy perhaps $50 billion dollars worth of unnecessary and environmentally destructive intermittent power from mom and pop power generators like GE subsidiaries and post office box corporations composed of "friends of the BC Liberals. Lately John Horgan (the man I wish was going to be our next premier) has pointed out the absurdity of the larcenous Liberal approach to green (as in Greenback Dollar) and the shameful fact that BC ratepayers, who have already been hit with outrageous rate increases and the insidious "dumb" meters will be on the hook for these billions of dollars for un-needed energy.

To the rescue of the BC liaRs, in the style of the Bu$h/Cheney catapaulting their "reality"  re: Saddams links to Al Queda or WMD's, comes Frederick Scott, Professional Engineer of Richmond.  His letter to the editor in the Vancouver Sun (and Chilliwack Times, Province, Richmond News and likely other media - google had over fifty hits for a quote from his masterpiece of disingenuity and misdirection) attacks Mr. Horgan from all directions with versions of the same letter from either good old Fred Scott of Richmond or for more impact, one presumes, sometimes as F. Scott or Frederick Scott P.Eng. I guess the fact that he is qualified as a Petroleum Engineer trained in Alberta employed by a company that I can only find located in Finland and the UK is irrelevant - his skill at using language to mislead would indicate he went to the Goebbels School of Applied Propaganda.  I will dissect the version from the Vancouver Sun, which is one of the longer versions and the first one I came across in the dead tree version of Vancouver's leading producer of cage liner and fish wrap.  I don't know if Fred sent slightly different versions to each outlet, or if each outlet (as is their custom) edited it slightly differently.   

NDP critique of BC Hydro policy doesn't hold water
This is apparently the headline chosen by the Stun, the headline varies from one paper to another. Other examples are:
  •  Disingenuous and misleading - from the Chilliwack Times
  • NDP not telling truth about Hydro rates - from the Province
  •  NDP hydro numbers mislead - Richmond News, Calgary Herald, Regina Leader-Post
" Re: NDP projects billion-dollar loss for BC Hydro, Feb. 5
John Horgan's argument that BC Hydro is losing millions of dollars over private power purchases is disingenuous and misleading."
It is astounding that he leads this piece with an accusation of Horgan being disingenuous and misleading, and then goes on to set an example of EXTREME disingenuousness and misdirection. But then people generally see (or perceive) flaws in others than they excel in exhibiting themselves. 
"BC Hydro is not buying $92/MWh power and selling it at $35/MWh into the open market."
Sorry Fred, but on the particular day referred to (and generally) that is EXACTLY what BC Hydro is being forced to do - I suspect as part of a plan to weaken the corporation and render it worthy of gifting to supporters ala BC Rail!
 " Rather, the 20+ year fixed price contracts for green power are used to supply renewable, reliable power to the core market. These long-term power contracts shouldn't be confused with the spot market, which is trading below $40/MWh, but has been as high as $1,100/MWh in recent history."
 While hydraulic power is "renewable," the typical IPP is certainly not RELIABLE, generating most of its power during run-off when there is a surplus of power and a lack of demand, thus the low spot market prices it almost invariably can bring. Meanwhile, legacy power potential from the existing dams on the Columbia and elsewhere, which is much cheaper to produce has to be wasted by letting the water go over the spillways rather than through the turbines.  In winter when demand is high for heating, or summer when demand is high for air conditioning, IPP production is low or non-existent due to the creeks being either frozen or water levels so low none can be diverted without killing of fish stocks (not that the Harper or Christy Clark governments really give a hoot about fish stocks unless they are Atlantic salmon in pens).
"Contracting for long-term fixed price power is a prudent way for BC Hydro to hedge its future requirements.
Total reliance on the spot market for energy shortfalls is a fool's game, one only has to look at the California energy crisis of 2001 when the state's energy purchases rose tenfold, and rolling blackouts prevailed. And as BC Hydro was a net importer of power for seven consecutive years in the last decade, who wants to run that risk?"
When one looks at the "California energy crisis of 2001." it is important to remember that it was an artificial crisis created by CRIMINAL ACTIVITY perpetrated by ENRON!

Mr. Scott's claim (and being an Albertan PETROLEUM ENGINEER he should know this) that BC Hydro is a net importer of power in some years is a red herring/straw man/ irrelevant because BC Hydro buys power during the night from Alberta BECAUSE the dirty fossil fuel produced power from Alberta during the night is even cheaper than BC's legacy power. Coal or oil-fired generators can't be turned on and off every night and morning so when most Albertans are sleeping, that power becomes redundant and it is better for those producers to sell it cheap than not at all.

Mr. Scott is either a BC Liberal supporter, someone with a vested interest in Rape of the Rivers IPP's or both. Also he is an engineer, which qualifies him to solve problems and build stuff, but not to articulate policy. I know that at the liberal arts university which I went to (University of California) engineers were the only students who were exempted from taking courses in such things as philosophy, social sciences and arts, which may account for how clueless so many engineers are when it comes to anything that doesn't involve math and physics. Even pre-med students had to complete two years worth of courses outside of the biological science oriented  courses required to graduate with the ability to enter medical school. This resulted in many, if not most of them having to dedicate five years to completing the required courses in both the liberal arts and the pre-med streams due to both the sheer volume of courses and the difficulty of scheduling them all within four years - especially if they had to do any remedial English, or as they called it at U of C the dreaded Subject A. Any students who didn't achieve a certain level on the English half of the SAT, had to pass Subject A, for which they received no credits, though it counted as three units for draft deferment purposes, no matter how many semesters it took them to pass and then they could continue on with English 1A, 1B and two or three electives in literature or composition.

Engineers are trained to solve physical/electrical/digital etc. problems and build stuff, but in my experience they are not required to spend much time or energy learning about what a problem might be or what needs to be built! This isn't to say an engineer is by definition ignorant of such issues, just that in many programs he/she isn't required to study much that doesn't involve slide rules and/or calculators, computers and drafting tools.

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