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The battle rages on: colds, flu and all!

March 7, 2011

Like a lot of people right about now, the boys in the BCCGE mailroom are hacking and coughing, and moaning and groaning, their way through the prolonged peak of the cold and flu season.  But they’re soldiering on as best they can and keeping close tabs on emerging green energy issues here in B.C.

And lots is going on!

Our co-spokesperson David Field, for example, has responded to several misinformed letters-to-the-editor in recent weeks, notably in the Grand Forks Gazette, Kamloops This Week, and the Barriere Star Journal

David has also responded to misleading comments made by NDP energy critic John Horgan in the Campbell River Mirror and the Westcoaster.ca.

Adding to this recent outbreak of viral misinformation, the boys in the BCCGE mailroom spotted a completely misinformed editorial in the Vancouver Province on February 25th which claimed that BC Hydro can produce electricity for one-ninth the cost of independent green energy producers. 

As David and several others quickly pointed out to the editorial team at the Vancouver Province, their “one-ninth” cost claim is based on a dishonest, and easily debunked, apples-to-oranges cost comparison between newly built electricity generating infrastructure and aging mega dam infrastructure built and paid for decades ago.

As David states in his March 1st letter to the Vancouver Province:

In claiming that electricity from independent producers costs nine times more than B.C. Hydro can produce it for, you are making an apples to oranges comparison between the cost of electricity from B.C. Hydro facilities built and paid for decades ago to electricity from newly built facilities.

For an honest cost comparison, you need to compare the cost of electricity from independent projects to new B.C. Hydro projects like the proposed Site C dam or any of B.C. Hydro’s soon to be overhauled, or already overhauled, facilities like the Aberfeldie Dam.

Minister of Energy, Steve Thomson, also responded to the Province’s highly misinformed editorial as did a highly regarded Vancouver lawyer with expertise in the energy sector, David Austin

Both said exactly the same thing David did, but in their own words: i.e., the only meaningful, accurate and fair comparison is to compare new-to-new.  And on that basis the cost of electricity from new independent green energy projects and new BC Hydro projects is going to be very similar (and a whole lot more than the paltry $7.19 per megawatt-hour cited in the Vancouver Province editorial).

Of course, as Scotty (the BCCGE mailroomer who mans our “Rafe hotline” and keeps BCCGE’s dilithium crystals functioning at peak efficiency) tells us, the ever-bombastic Rafe Mair has been manically and uncritically trumpeting the Vancouver Province editorial as new proof that BC Hydro can produce electricity cheaper than independent producers. 

Well, we would sure like to see Mair produce clean, renewable electricity for $7.19 a megawatt-hour.  If he can figure out a way to do that then the world’s energy woes will be over and we’ll eat our words. 

But as it stands, Mair’s claim simply reminds us of that famous episode of The Simpsons where Homer was elected Springfield’s Sanitation Commissioner and foolishly spent the city’s entire garbage collection budget for the year in one month because he didn’t have a clue what he was talking about or what the true cost of managing Springfield’s public sanitation infrastructure entailed.

In other words, the Vancouver Province editorial team’s poorly informed suggestion (echoed by Mair) that the province should abandon plans to purchase new supplies of wind, solar and run-of-river energy from independent producers, and instead expand mythical “cheap power from large dams,” can be safely crossed off the good ideas list and filed under “bad idea guys/do some research next time.”

So, as always, we strongly recommend that everyone remember their key Latin phrases when encountering claims like those in the Vancouver Province editorial and those promulgated by green energy opponents like Mair; particularly the phrases caveat emptor and cum grano salis.

With so many nasty green energy myths and bits of misinformation flowing about faster than a spring freshet, those Latin phrases should come in handy. 

Yes, the battle rages on.  But we’re fighting the good fight so we don’t mind one bit: colds, flu and all!

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