Friday, October 30, 2009

Private power: scam of the century

Photo: government of BC.

You may have hit some headlines this morning announcing that the Campbell government has ordered BC Hydro to reclassify Burrard Thermal as a backup power plant and thus write it off its roster of electricity sources.

If you need some background on the story, here is a report from Georgia Straight's Matthew Burrows.

People of BC beware! You are being manipulated by the Campbell government.

The "decommissioning" of Burrard Thermal is a politician's smoke screen to justify the awarding of thousands of unneeded megawatts to private power corporations.

Here is why. Burrard Thermal is a backup plant. Always has. Always will be. And so Campbell's announcement that this plant will be used as a backup plant changes nothing at all in the real world. On paper however, BC Hydro has just "lost" 6,000 GwH which need to be "replaced". How? Well, through private power of course!

This summer, the BC Utilities Commission dissented with Campbell's plan to sell out our rivers. The independent commission ruled that BC Hydro's request for new energy was grossly inflated because energy conservation has not yet been properly tapped into.

To justify the "need" for private power in spite of this ruling, the Campbell government needed to come up with a magic trick. Burrard Thermal provided just that.

The problem of course - are you ready for this? - is that run-of-river energy plants are structurally incapable of providing the energy needed by British Columbians. Indeed, those private power plants produce their peak energy in the spring and summer, whereas we need most of our energy in the winter. It's a hard fact dictated by the laws of hydrology.

Consequently, the majority of electrons produced by private run-of-river plants are destined to California, profiting the bottom lines of General Electric, Plutonic Power, and other transnational corporations, but not British Columbians.

This private power business is the scam of the century. Or at least in the early part of it, who knows what they'll come up with next.


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