Friday, March 25, 2011

Bringing good things to life — like no taxes

Rafe Mair likes to remind citizens that when preference for private power generation became BC Liberal policy, they talked about "Run-of-the-River" projects. The implication was that small, benign installations would be community based mom and pops, providing jobs and investment opportunities to locals.

Who could object? The product would be green electricity serving local needs, engaging community members, especially First Nations, leaving no deleterious footprints on the environment. Small coastal villages had survived forever by sharing and protecting resources, matching one need with another. How could this go wrong?

It went wrong because the images of mechanical technology in harmony with nature were fraudulent. So were the concepts of mom and pop, locally based initiatives. It turns out the largest participant in British Columbia's private power generation is General Electric. And, who is GE? The world's second largest corporation, according to Forbes.

From the New York Times, G.E.’s Strategies Let It Avoid Taxes Altogether
The company reported worldwide profits of $14.2 billion, and said $5.1 billion of the total came from its operations in the United States.

Its American tax bill? None. In fact, G.E. claimed a tax benefit of $3.2 billion.
These words are from blogger Dave Johnson's Today's Plutocracy Post:
In 1983 NY hotel-chain-owning billionaire Leona Helmsley said, "We don't pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes..." As our country migrates from democracy to plutocracy, this more and more appears to be official policy. Again and again we see tax cuts for the wealthy few, tax breaks and subsidies for the big corporations that operate as fronts for those wealthy few, and budget cuts for the things We, the People (government) do to empower and protect each other.
Welcome to British Columbia Mr. General Electric. Have at it.

The Dave Johnson quote is from the PM Update of Campaign for America's Future. You can subscribe for free.
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  1. It irks me that Carole James took a bunch of reporters up in an airplane to show them the damage and scoop of the ROR power projects and she was ignored. The weather was too windy for them to look out the window and see the damage. Instead of reporting on the damage the IPP's were doing, they ridiculed her for taking them on a bumpy ride. What a bunch of gutless reporters. Now we are getting some pictures and an update of the damage she was pointing out. Just think what would have happened if she was listened to by these useless media types.

  2. Another shining example of how the DISGRACED former premier of British Columbia, Gordon Campbell, helped screw the people who gave him the honour of the highest office in tghe province. Campbell helped screw every taxpayer in the province with his corporate sabotaging of the provincial assets.

    Time for Campbell to be incarcerated with other common criminals - it is where he belongs.

    Thank you.

  3. Perhaps criminals still remain because only the public face was changed.

  4. Here is a slightly different (from over two years ago) look at the same issue Norm is dealing with in this post - the reality of IPPs as opposed to the fantasy created to sell the destruction. This post, crossposted at Waterwalk and the House of Infamy is from December, 2009 - but nothing much has changed (except maybe AXOR has given up on the Glacier/Howser project). In our area the resistance currently has focused on the area around Golden, where they want to dam and divert three creeks against apparently almost overwhelming local resistance.

    at WaterWalk
    Gordo's Fantasy vs. the Real World

    This is also crossposted at the House of Infamy under a different title We don't just Steal Railroads

  5. An excellent read Kootcoot. BC Liberals figure that because we lose money on every IPP contract, we'll make it up on volume. Yeah, great business manager, according to themselves.

  6. I followed the link to Gordo's Fantasy....lo and behold the Tri-Cities debate on Burrard Thermal from a while back came up...below is a letter I submitted to the Coquitlam Now paper...they did publish it, and to their credit it was only partially edited for brevity...unlike letters on other subjects submitted to the Tri City News and the Vancouver Province, each of the latter conveniently lost paragraphs referencing the BC Citizens for Green Energy.....this was way back when I thought the MSM was the place to go....silly me...

    "There have been many letters written applauding the idea of closing Burrard Thermal. This is a mistake. BC Hydro has developed the most reliable electricity supply network in the world. Burrard Thermal plays an important role by kicking in for peak demand and emergency backup in the event of catastrophic failure of our power transmission system. It is already built. It is reliable, even in the dead of winter. There have been many options proposed to both increase efficiencies and reduce emissions. Implementation of these plans would provide employment for our industry leading highly skilled workers and have far less environmental impact than building a “run of river” project. Burrard is publicly owned with proceeds going to the taxpayers of BC, not dividends to shareholders of private (and often foreign) corporate “Run of River” projects. “Run of River” cannot supply electricity in the winter cold when we most need it; it works only in the late spring/early summer when used to supplement already existing exports. “Run of River” is not displacing significant amounts of fossil fuel generated electricity (none in our immediate area) for the environmental impact imposed; it is just adding more to the market. These projects are a mechanism for the very experienced pennystock promoters in the IPP industry to trade in carbon credits, of which the taxpayer will get no benefit.

    It is very important to understand that “Run of River” is not run of river. On the Sunshine Coast alone there will be 5 high alpine lakes dammed and drained by levels of 20 metres. Large tunnels are bored into the bottom of the lakes for insertion of 2 metre diameter penstocks. Downstream of the powerhouse the flows are increased above normal, upstream of the powerhouse many kilometres of river run almost dry. Waterfalls, visible from sea level, are reduced in volume by 20%. After emerging from the tunnels these penstocks are above ground in large clearcuts down to the powerhouses. The powerhouses themselves require major clearing and service road construction in otherwise untouched wilderness. There is no infrastructure to transmit the electricity so hundreds of kilometres are clearcut for powerlines. Unlike logging, there is no replanting or deactivation of roads and right of ways. There will not be a place from Harrison Lake to Bute Inlet where one will able to float in a canoe and view SuperNatural BC.

    With all of this being said, there are several valid Run of River projects where there is minimal impact, they are true run of river, diesel gensets are being displaced, they are financially supporting nearby communities and length of transmission lines are minimal or already in place. Unfortunately this is not true of most that have just received an Agreement to Purchase.

    The provincial government is deceptive by limiting public awareness. The official opposition is not doing a good job of counteracting this. The taxpayers of BC are bearing the brunt of over-zealous privatization in all areas of our lives. Our fish and wildlife do not need any extra stresses. Fish farms (in large part also foreign owned) are bad enough. If we are to bear the brunt of power for export and sacrifice of our wilderness areas for the greater good of the world, it needs to be in public control and benefit all residents of BC equally.

    There needs to be some indication that the customers using this power are making a valiant effort to reduce consumption or all is for naught."

  7. One of the Sunshine Coast generation projects that MC Guy refers to is pictured in the photo montage shown in this article. Had BC environmental laws been applied, the project would have faced charges under the federal fisheries laws and the BC forestry laws. Apparently, the Liberals' pet industry is exempt from economic realities as well as laws aimed at protecting the ecology.

  8. Most people have to choose between paying rent and buying food these days - and get hit with a tax bill anyway.

    Did you have a bad year last year? Unemployed, no income? Did that reduce your tax bill this year?

    No, because you are not a corporation.



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