A “Load” of Baloney


In a recent May 25, 2010 delegation before Ft. St. JSiteC-1ohn City Council, David Conway, B.C. Hydro’s Site-C Community Relations Manager, stated that the proposed $6.6 billion dam, to be built on the Peace River near the western outskirts of Ft. St. John, “would be a publicly owned facility” through B.C. Hydro. The facility would have six generators running 150 megawatts each, for a total of 900 megawatts, holding approximately a third of the energy of the WAC Bennett dam, “and 4,600 gigawatts of energy - enough electricity to power about 410,000 homes per year:”


Why is it that we are looking at Site C? The growth in regards to load is expected or forecast to be between 20 and 40 percent.... The province’s population is expected to grow substantially over that period of time, and we are looking at emerging trends such as electric vehicles which could really change the load for us. (Audio transcript)


Most British Columbians may be under the grandiose impression that the B.C. Liberal administration’s pressing and hasty proposal for the Site-C dam is intended for the sole benefit of BC public’s overall interest and use. Nothing, apparently, could be further from the truth.



The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers


Whatever the original intentions that may or may not have been to resurrect construction of the controversial Site-C dam as directed by the BC Liberal Cabinet to BC Hydro when it filed an application with the BC Utilities Commission near April Fools Day, 2004, it has since become crystal clear that Site-C is primarily aimed to benefit and support the natural gas industry operations near the Fort Nelson area, and as a new artery for other inSiteC-3dustry in BC’s northwest. The major Fort Nelson area exploration and production gas companies, identified as the Horn River Producers Group, not only desire about 500 megawatts from the total proposed 900 megawatts from Site C, they also want B.C. Hydro (the public) to fund a new $300 million transmission line. The construction of Site-C and the proposed transmission line costs add up to about $7 billion ‘gift’ from the public.


It is not known how long the Horn River Producers Group may have hatched this scheme with or without the special aid of the B.C. Liberals, but what is known is that the Group of corporations finally let the cat out the bag in December, 2008.


In a December 15, 2008, 10-page submission included in B.C. SiteC-4Hydro’s 2008 Long-Term Acquisition Plan Application (Evidentiary Update, December 22, 2008), the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), acting on behalf of the Horn River Producers Group, presented a detailed request for up to 550 megawatts of power for the Horn River Basin area near Fort Nelson. Brad Herald, one of CAPP’s Canadian lobbyists, and CAPP’s designated manager of British Columbia Operations, was signatory to the submission:


The potential exists for significant electric load growth in the greater Ft. Nelson Horn River Basin (HRB) area within the range of 100-350 Megawatts (MW) by the year 2020. This is due to the development potential of the Horn River Basin Shale Gas.


The electrification of HRB field compression and Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS) compression at the Cabin Plant and area processing plants are major opportunities to abate GHG emissions. The potential exists to reduce cumulative emissions of some 100 Megatonnes via electrification and CCS from this play by the year 2030. The range of electric load potential of ~ 100 – 350 MW exists based principally on the timing of electrification.


The Horn River Basin Shale Gas play has developed over the last three to four years. Mineral Land Tenure Licenses totalling over 1.2 million acres have been issued by the Province of B.C. The revenue to the Crown associated with these licenses now totals over 1.5 Billion dollars.


Part of Conway's submission, included an Encana map showing the gas production facilities

The majority of the tenure is held by a group of eight Operators who have formed a producers association named the Horn River Producers Group (HRPG). The charter of the HRPG is to work cooperatively to facilitate the orderly development of the resource.


The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), through its Oil & Gas Sector Table established by the B.C. government, have been working with the B.C. Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources in assessingSiteC-5 the impact of this resource development in terms of greenhouse gas emissions and the potential for abatement. The information obtained is being reported to the Climate Committee of the B.C. Cabinet. A primary opportunity to reduce the anticipated emissions from natural gas production and development is the electrification of the HRB field gathering compression and CO2 sequestration compression at the major plant facilities.


The Horn River Basin Shale gas will be developed using horizontal wells from multiple well pads. The number of wells per pad will vary, but will likely start at 8-12. The pads will produce to a low pressure (150 psig) gathering system. The gathering system will transport the well effluent to a Compression and Dehydration Facility, referred to as an RGT facility (Raw Gas Treatment).The gas will then be transported via a high pressure (1,500 psig) gathering system to a Processing Plant. The processing plant removes the CO2 and H2S and necessary to meet sales gas specifications. The Process Plant is where CO2 may be compressed and sequestered. The sales gas is then delivered to the Sales Gas Transmission system.


A major opportunity for electric load would result from the electrification of the RGT Facilities.


Each site would, conceptually, gather and compress from a 10 km radius.... The possible RGT sites are depicted in Figure 2. They would be situated along the existing Komie Road and its likely extension northward. Full field development would require up to eight such RGT facilities.


The other opportunity for load growth would result from electrified compression associated with CO2 sequestration at the proposed Cabin Plant. The Cabin Plant is anticipated to be built in 6 stages, with each stage representing process capacity of 400 mmscf/d.... Accordingly, given six plant stages, the Ultimate potential load for the Cabin Plant is 120 MW.


The range of electric load potential of some 100 - 350 MW is summarized in Table 1 below. It results from assumptions concerning the timing of electrification. The conclusion is that the earlier that power can be brought to the area, the higher the load potential, thereby providing the largest benefit from a GHG mitigation perspective.


The High Case Load (~ 350 MW total) assumes power is available in 2011. The case assumes that all (120 MW) of Cabin Plant is ultimately electrified, 90 MW of existing compression at RGT sites is retrofitted, and 75% of the go forward load growth from 2012 onwards (160 MW) is electrified.


The Low Case Load (~ 100 MW total) assumes power is available in 2016. The case assumes that only 20 MW of Cabin Plant is ultimately electrified, existing compression at RGT sites is not retrofitted, and 75% of the go forward load growth from 2016 onwards (90 MW) is electrified.



Brad Herald, also responsible for conducting CAPP’s environmental issues, included a graph in his submission entitled Horn River Forecast. The graph indicates that the Horn River Producers Group actually needs 550 megawatts under what is termed “production forecast”. And, as Herald states, Encana’s controversial, and soon to be North America’s largest, Cabin Gas Plant (now under construction on a one kilometer square clearcut or pad) alone would require 120 megawatts upon completion of its six phases of construction - that’s almost the total output of one of the six proposed 150 megawatt turbines for Site C.

The threatened Peace River habitat and ecosystem

Comments by Senator Richard Neufeld


CAPP’s figure of 550 megawatts in its report to BC Hydro is almost the same figure cited by Canadian Conservative Party Senator Richard Neufeld just over a year later. Neufeld, the former BC Liberal Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources appeared before Ft. St. John City Council as a “late delegation” on Monday, February 8, 2010, the day, coincidentally, before the opening of the Second Session of BC’s 39th Parliament in BC’s Capital of Victoria, where Lieutenant Governor Stephen Point announced the BC Liberal’s intention to initiate phase 3 of the Site-C dam proposal. Neufeld encouraged Ft. St. John Council to “get on the train” of Site C for the next phase or stage 3 permitting:


We’ve got a lot of things in the northeast out of expanded oil and gas activity, and there should be no reason why we don’t get a lot of things out of Site C.... I want to make sure that Ft. St. John and the region actually benefit if in fact Site C goes ahead, to the maximum that we possibly can.... to maximize the benefits for the people of northern British Columbia.


I know that there has been some discussion ongoing about the amount of electricity that would be needed in Fort Nelson with the advent of the Horn River Basin which is in the magnitude of 500 megawatts, understanding Site C would generate about 900 megawatts. It’s a significant amount of Site C so I think we can all get some benefits out of this as long as we all are on the same boat and singing from the same song sheet. (audio transcript. Neufeld stated that he was appearing in his capacity as a Senator, and as a resident individual )


The local newspaper, Energetic City, covering Neufeld’s appearance before Ft. St. John Council that day, failed to quote or mention Neufeld’s significant statement about the 500 megawatts slated for the Horn River area from Site C (Senator Neufeld encouraging Fort St. John Site-C study, February 8, 2010).


Neufeld, re-elected in the Ft. St. John area provincial riding in May 2005, would remain as BC Minister of Energy, Mines & Petroleum Resources until January 2009, when he left provincial politics appointed to a seat in the Canadian Senate by Conservative Party Prime Minister Harper.


At the end of June, 2005, Neufeld, while on a trade mission in Calgary with BC oil and gas service companies, was interviewed by the Prince George Citizen newspaper, Peace River super dam closer to reality. Neufeld stated that Site C would be included in his government’s next Energy Plan.


A September 15, 2005 Vancouver Sun article, BC Hydro boosts plans to build Controversial Site C dam, leaked new information about an internal B.C. Hydro memo which “suggests that Hydro has decided the project will proceed”, and that the project will “serve the province’s domestic needs”.


Following the new information in the February 9, 2010 Throne Speech, about a new $300 million electricity transmission line to Fort Nelson, and a new $400 million electrical transmission corridor to BC’s northwest (and another transmission line proposal into the Klappan watershed near Iskut), various newspapers began covering the new story about the link between the Horn River Producers and Site-C, some of it with soft investigative, or even supportive, brush strokes.


Michael Sather in the House


On March 2, 2010, Maple Ridge/Mission riding NDP MLA and Environment critic Michael Sather managed to raise the connection between Site C and the Horn River Basin in BC’s Parliament:


One of the things that has come up, of course, with Site C that I wanted to bring up is coordination — supposedly; it’s certainly being talked about — between Site C power, were it to be developed, and the massive shale gas developments in northeastern British Columbia in the Fort Nelson area.


The potential new transmission line interconnecting Fort Nelson to the British Columbia Transmission Corporation integrated system can be found in B.C. Hydro’s long-term acquisition plan, which says: “B.C. Hydro has requested that BCTC” — British Columbia Transmission Corporation — “complete a planning-level assessment with respect to a new transmission connection between the Peace region and Fort Nelson.” It goes on to say that “new transmission infrastructure will link northeastern B.C. to our integrated grid.”


It goes on to say that a “new transmission infrastructure will link northeastern B.C. to our integrated grid, provide clean power” — so it says — “to the energy industry and open up new capacity for clean power exports to Alberta, Saskatchewan and south of the border.” Okay. “We will seek major transmission upgrades with utilities in California and elsewhere.”


According to Michele Rampersad, who is with Nexen Inc., and Nexen is one of the corporations that’s planning to develop the shale gas deposit…. She says: “With the geographical location of Horn River,” — that’s where the shale gas is — “we feel it makes sense to come across and feed those volumes over to the oil sands.” So develop Site C; ship the power to the shale gas deposits. To what? To power the oil sands. Now, that is a green project if I ever saw one.


The oil sands, the single dirtiest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the world — that is what this impetus, this enthusiasm for Site C is driven by, in large measure. It’s not about providing energy for British Columbians. That’s the farce. That’s the doublespeak that this government has in many areas we’ve been asking this government to come clean on what their real intentions are. They don’t do it. There has been greenwashing galore for years from this government. They won’t tell us. They won’t come out and say: “You know what? We want this power for export. We want this power to produce oil from the tar sands.”


That’s okay if the government wants to say that we’re in favour of facilitating the development of the tar sands, but don’t at the same time try to tell British Columbians that your agenda is about clean and green energy. It’s not. So I think it’s really incumbent upon the government to come clean on that.


I expect the member from the northeast that spoke earlier may have been at a recent presentation made by Sen. Richard Neufeld, who of course was the former Energy Minister in this government. On February 8, speaking to the Fort St. John city council, he encouraged the council to get on the train of Site C.


He said: “I know that there has been some discussion ongoing about the amount of electricity that would be needed in Fort Nelson with the advent of the Horn River basin, which is in the magnitude of 500 megawatts. Understanding that Site C would generate about 900 megawatts; it’s a significant amount of Site C.” Indeed it is. It’s over half, as a matter of fact.


So here you have the former Energy Minister of this government, from that particular area, saying that Site C would use half of that to develop the shale gas deposits to ship the natural gas resource over to the tar sands to develop the tar sands. Sweet but disingenuous, and therein lies the problem.


Sather’s comments were briefly reported on in a few, but isolated, newspapers:


Another Lower Mainland NDP-MLA has weighed in with his views on the Peace River Site-C dam project, putting it under the going-green microscope.


Michael Sather is the MLA for Maple Ridge-Mission and he claims most of the new power that would be generated by Site C would be destined for the Fort Nelson area, where it would be used to develop natural gas in shale deposits.


The Maple Ridge News says Mr Sather, the NDP’s deputy environment critic, also contends the natural gas would then be pumped to the Alberta tar sands, where it would be used to separate the oil from the sands.


Mr. Sather made the accusations this week using statements by former provincial energy minister, and Peace River North MLA Richard Neufeld during his February appearance before Fort St. John City Council.


However, Liberal MLA Marc Dalton has again reminded the opposition critic there’s been no final decision on Site C and he also reminded him, any use of electricity to develop natural gas means it would be going to the oil and gas industry, which pays for social services in the Lower Mainland. (MLA says Site C will power the oil and gas natural industry, Energetic City, Ft. St. John, March 5, 2010)



West Moberly First Nations


In an April 21, 2010 Province newspaper article, Frustrated First Nations, green groups call foul, West Moberly First Nations Chief Roland Willson lashed out about the plans to use much of Site C for the Horn River Basin Producers Group of gas companies:


The Site C dam is an unnecessary, destructive megaproject that will increase greenhouse gas emissions, not reduce them, critics say.


Premier Gordon Campbell's claim that it will power 410,000 homes is overstated, they add, arguing most of the hydro power generated will go to a future natural-gas extraction plant farther north and much of that natural gas will be exported to Alberta to fire oilsands production.


“People have been misled about Site C right from the very beginning,” Chief Roland Willson of the West Moberly First Nations told The Province on Monday. “We’ve got lots of power. This is not for residential use. It’s going to go to the Horn River and facilitate the development and extraction of oilsands.”


More Investigation and Exposure of the Issue Needed


There has been very little serious or investigative reporting to provide in-depth details on the connection between the proposed site C dam power generation and the Horn River Basin. Given the fact that BC Hydro, a public utility, is planning to fork out an estimated $6.6 billion, and ruin, through flooding, a long and critical valley habitat ecosystem, with high recreational values, mostly for the selfish and controversial interests of the gas industry complex, with its highly controversial plans to feed Alberta’s tar sands with energy, it is imperative that British Columbians understand what the issue is really now all about, and demand an end to Site C.


SiteC-9Public Opposition and Education Groups


In the Peace River area, many residents have opposed Site C for many years. There is much information that residents have accumulated over time, some of which is available through environmental organization websites, blogs, etc.


·      Peace Valley Environment Association, www.peacevalley.ca/

·      Keep the Peace Blog, http://keepingthepeace.wordpress.com/

·      Keep the Peace, facebook

·      Paddle for the Peace, www.paddleforthepeace.ca/

·      West Moberley First Nations, www.treaty8.bc.ca/westmoberly.php

·      It’s Our Valley, www.itsourvalley.wordpress.com/

·      No Site C!, www.nositec.ca/

·      Down the River newspaper column, www.site-c-dam.com/