The article you just read was brought to you by a few thousand dedicated readers. Will you join them?

Thanks for coming by The Tyee and reading one of many original articles we’ll post today. Our team works hard to publish in-depth stories on topics that matter on a daily basis. Our motto is: No junk. Just good journalism.

Just as we care about the quality of our reporting, we care about making our stories accessible to all who want to read them and provide a pleasant reading experience. No intrusive ads to distract you. No paywall locking you out of an article you want to read. No clickbait to trick you into reading a sensational article.

There’s a reason why our site is unique and why we don’t have to rely on those tactics — our Tyee Builders program. Tyee Builders are readers who chip in a bit of money each month (or one-time) to our editorial budget. This amazing program allows us to pay our writers fairly, keep our focus on quality over quantity of articles, and provide a pleasant reading experience for those who visit our site.

In the past year, we’ve been able to double our staff team and boost our reporting. We invest all of the revenue we receive into producing more and better journalism. We want to keep growing, but we need your support to do it.

Fewer than 1 in 100 of our average monthly readers are signed up to Tyee Builders. If we reach 1% of our readers signing up to be Tyee Builders, we could continue to grow and do even more.

If you appreciate what The Tyee publishes and want to help us do more, please sign up to be a Tyee Builder today. You pick the amount, and you can cancel any time.

Support our growing independent newsroom and join Tyee Builders today.
Before you click away, we have something to ask you…

Do you value independent journalism that focuses on the issues that matter? Do you think Canada needs more in-depth, fact-based reporting? So do we. If you’d like to be part of the solution, we’d love it if you joined us in working on it.

The Tyee is an independent, paywall-free, reader-funded publication. While many other newsrooms are getting smaller or shutting down altogether, we’re bucking the trend and growing, while still keeping our articles free and open for everyone to read.

The reason why we’re able to grow and do more, and focus on quality reporting, is because our readers support us in doing that. Over 5,000 Tyee readers chip in to fund our newsroom on a monthly basis, and that supports our rockstar team of dedicated journalists.

Join a community of people who are helping to build a better journalism ecosystem. You pick the amount you’d like to contribute on a monthly basis, and you can cancel any time.

Help us make Canadian media better by joining Tyee Builders today.
We value: Our readers.
Our independence. Our region.
The power of real journalism.
We're reader supported.
Get our newsletter free.
Help pay for our reporting.
Opinion

Why Should British Columbians Pay Power Bills for LNG Industry?

New ‘eDrive’ policy means BC Hydro customers could pay billions to subsidize plants.

By Marvin Shaffer 16 Nov 2016 | TheTyee.ca

Marvin Shaffer is a consulting economist and adjunct professor in the public policy program at Simon Fraser University.

In The Tyee article “BC’s LNG Fraud,” Andrew Nikiforuk pointed out that the government’s new eDrive policy requiring BC Hydro to supply electricity to LNG plants at the standard industrial rate, instead of the much higher rate that government determined was needed for BC Hydro to recover its costs, will result in a subsidy of $34 million per year for the Woodfibre LNG plant near Squamish.

It is a significant amount, adding up to some $860 million over the life of the facility.

However more worrisome is the precedent it sets for other potential LNG plants.

The Woodfibre plant’s electricity requirements are some 1,200 gigawatt hours (GWh) per year. While that is a large load on the system — more than one-fifth the energy output of Site C — it is still relatively small compared to the other plants that have been proposed in B.C.

The electricity requirements for proposed LNG plants in the northwest — including the Petronas plant near Prince Rupert — would be more than 6,000 GWh per year, should they choose to take advantage of the low eDrive rate and liquefy with electricity instead of burning natural gas.

Each plant’s requirements would exceed the output of Site C, and yet the amount they would pay under the eDrive policy would be some 40 per cent less than the cost of producing the electricity.

The annual subsidies would exceed $170 million per year per plant. The subsidies over the life of the facilities would be more than $4 billion per plant.

These subsidies will not be transparent payments by government to support the LNG operations. They will be paid for by BC Hydro customers, whose rates will have to go up to cover the shortfall between what the LNG plants pay for the electricity and what it costs BC Hydro to provide it.

Which raises a public policy question. Why should the government force BC Hydro customers to make this massive investment in LNG?

There is no evidence that the economic net benefits, properly measured, are large enough to justify the subsidies — the spread between the value of LNG in the Pacific Rim markets and the costs of producing it in B.C. is too small.

And while liquefying with electricity would reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it is not at all clear why BC Hydro customers should subsidize the avoidance of emissions that LNG plants would otherwise create.

The avoidance — or at least carbon tax payments — for those emissions should be the LNG plants’ responsibility.

Like so many of the policies the government has imposed on BC Hydro over the past 15 years, the consequences of the eDrive rate are potentially huge, and the supporting analysis non-existent.

If there is a case to be made, the government should make it. But that requires more than slogans and press releases. It requires carefully considered and independent assessment of the benefits and costs.  [Tyee]

Share this article

The Tyee is supported by readers like you

Join us and grow independent media in Canada

Facts matter. Get The Tyee's in-depth journalism delivered to your inbox for free

LATEST STORIES

The Barometer

Tyee Poll: Are You Preparing for the Next Climate Disaster?

Take this week's poll