Rustad taken to task for comments on Site C amortization

 

Open letter to Nechako Lakes MLA John Rustad

After reading your comments about Site C in the PG Daily News, Nov. 3, 2017, I have a couple questions and  a few observations.

For reference I am a Fort St. John-based business owner and have been since 1980. I have seen every aspect of the Site C project play out, including the two prior rejections of it.

Your comment about ending the project and amortization needs to be re-considered, as much of the money spent on construction activities to date, as listed on Table 3 Section 4 Page 30, of the BCHydro initial submission to the BCUC, (attached), $562 million includes assets that can be recovered, like gravel and rock stockpiles/supply that is desperately needed for public infrastructure projects in Peace River North and South. Your colleagues, whom are copied will confirm this.

The bridge on the Peace River provides access to an area of prime, wet natural gas development and will serve agricultural users and forest operators. Improving efficiency of those industries. Remedial work for the on-site roadways is mostly completed.

Next item is the $46 Million of off-site roadwork and powerline upgrades that were due regardless of any project. Much of this work was completed by companies resident in your constituency.

So , yes there are assets, and yes they should be amortized. If the concern was about building unnecessary debt, the project should not have been started without the review it just received.

The $4 billion will not be completely wasted and you are in a position to know this. Can you see where it will cost $2 billion to put a site with only $562M spent, achieving all of the major physical earthmoving, roadbuilding and associated works, back to safe and stable?

Will you or anyone you know be purchasing an electric vehicle anytime soon, and did you not see in the report and various submissions where this will not be a major concern over time? Other jurisdictions that do have high uptake on EVs have not seen large increases in demand as you suggest.

BC Hydro’s demand forecasts have been proven wrong with alarming frequency over the last 20 years, so with the backup of professional independent analysts, one could easily believe that their forecast are overly optimistic. BC Hydro’s last quarterly report confirms again decaying demand.

I realize in your position, it is politically expedient to blame the other side, which does not address the issue of delays correctly. The delay is due to the inherent instability of the North Bank and the inability to proceed with construction of the diversion tunnel portals. As the North Bank slowly slides into the river as predicted by many previous engineering studies, the project may not ever be able to be completed.

Huge sums of money may not be able to correct the problem. I ask, should we just keep throwing money into the river in an attempt to complete a project we were warned was unstable? The current government may have its faults, although, they cannot be blamed for the poor geotechnical conditions of the Peace Valley. I’m sure that your colleagues could address this, as they attempt to secure money for the South Taylor Hill.

The cost overruns you  marginalize are very real, not estimates, as some have been paid out.  BC Hydro is battling over additional costs with the contractor, an event that could very well lead to bonding company involvement and further litigation. Do you think the costs will decrease if several million more cubic metres of material need to be moved? Will those events impact the schedule?

As a minister in the previous government, you likely know that the blame for this will come that direction.  I would suggest that in the event of termination, the narrative be directed at ways of recovering as much of the spent funds as possible. We all need to think of ways to make the best of what is a bad situation. Rhetoric will not solve this problem.

Bob Fedderly

Fort St. John

  • gramma

    great letter,

  • Karen Goodings

    Well said, Bob. It is really too bad that there was no one within the Liberal Government that recognized the need for the site c project to be referred to the BCUC as was suggested by the Joint Review Panel. Both the NDP and the Liberal government need to recognize that there was a reason why there were three Independent candidates running in the last provincial election in the North Peace riding.