I am utterly flummoxed over this recent Dave Mills Californication: B.C. renewable energy projects get screwed post on the Dogwood website. I find it almost impossible to correlate this sleight of hand doggerel with the Dave Mills and Dogwood organization that I respect/value so highly for its effectiveness in bringing people together to promote strong, healthy local communities and lobby for government accountability at all levels.

According to Mills’ post “Bill 17, tabled at the end of June, is the NDP’s latest maneuver to squeeze out local electricity generation – in favour of U.S. producers.” How Independent Power Producers (IPPs) like Plutonic/General Electric are “local electricity generation” is a flight of fantasy beyond my meager imagining. The closest Mills comes to an even weakly stated truth about the Liberal Party IPPs is “Maybe the government needs to renegotiate much lower payments to these small power plants….” The rest of the post is cleverly crafted deceptions about the value, meaning and purpose of this BC Liberal project to bankrupt BC Hydro, our publicly owned hydro network, in favour of lining the pockets of large corporate donors to the Liberal Party and advance the Liberal party preference for private enterprise over public.

Nowhere in the post does Mills admit the obvious truth that Liberal Party privatization of power generation in BC is the exact equivalent of the Liberal Party privatization of seniors care homes. Both have nothing to do with the public good but are designed to gut well managed public services in favour of lining the pockets of corporate interests who, in turn, give generously to Liberal Party coffers.

While Mills hints at the vast/disproportionate costs IPPs create for BC homeowners nowhere does he mention the utter absurdity of the Liberal Party legislation that compels BC Hydro to buy electricity, at exorbitant rates, from private companies at the time of year when Hydro dams are full and our public utility is producing all the electricity BC needs. These private companies have been allowed to take over access to our water and land while enjoying sweet-heart deals,

In one of his weakest arguments Mills alleges that the BC government is “…trying to get themselves out of the mess created by the ballooning cost of Site C… at odds with the NDP’s campaign promise to ‘make life more affordable’”. Now that is a classic non sequitur: first Mills argues that the NDP is driving down hydro costs by allowing Hydro, to once again, buy extra electricity only when it needs/can use it, then he argues that the NDP is driving up electricity costs to cover for the ballooning cost of Site C. Strange that Mills didn’t see this obvious contradiction. While the contradictory arguments that the NDP is driving hydro costs down and up doesn’t make any superficial sense it does make profound sense in that it very clearly reveals the motive behind this blistering attack on the BC government: Mills is clearly out to attack the NDP—truth and good reasoning are irrelevant.

According to Mills “The public may perceive that the Campbell era was a gold rush for well-connected BC Liberal campaign donors.” Strange wording. Once again Mills is trying to obfuscate the obvious: the Campbell era was a gold rush for well-connected BC Liberal donors—whether the public perceives it or not. Whether it is in the deaths of BC seniors in cost cutting/profit optimizing privatized care homes or in the cost of electricity jacked up to pay for the profits of the Liberals’ corporate buddies, BC residents are now paying the cost for that gold rush.

While Mills alleges that the NDP “Kneecapping all forms of decentralized generation” means missing out on local renewable energy projects that are cheaper per megawatt-hour than dams and come online much faster, the Liberals were very clear that under Liberal legislation BC Hydro must by high cost electricity from private power even when Hydro is generating more than enough power from existing dams at a fraction of the cost they were compelled to pay private power producers. Contrary to Mills’ claims if we had not gone to private power, citizens of BC would be paying $200 less per year on their hydro bills.

Interestingly while Mills postures as an advocate of good governance in Hydro and promoting “independence, fairness, employment, revenue, training, innovation, modernization and getting off fossil fuels ” he fails to recognize the value of restoring the role BC Utilities Commission in promoting just those values. It seems that for both the Liberals and Mills the BC Utilities Commission role in promoting accountability to the citizens of BC was the last thing on their mind.

While Mills claims to advocate for independence, fairness, employment, revenue, training, innovation, modernization and getting off fossil fuels , his proposed solution –bankrupting BC Hydro in order to line the pockets of the BC Liberal’s corporate buddies would accomplish none of that. Digging into his corporate pie in the sky Mills whimsically suggests, “We could have local clean energy sources helping us displace fossil fuels by electrifying buses, cars, bikes and heat pumps.” What Mills fails to account for is we could convert to electric buses…only if we have affordable electricity, not the sky high rates Mills would like to see imposed on BC residents by the Liberal stick it to the little guy raiding of our common good for the private interests of a few.

Mills ends the post with an urgent but—again—specious message: “Send a message to your MLA. Tell them you want Bill 17 amended to make room for Indigenous and community-owned renewable energy projects.” His whole argument was not about Indigenous or community-owned renewable energy. It was about trying to sugar coat the hamstringing of our public utility to make way for an unconscionable assault on the pocket books of British Columbians for the benefit of big business corporate buddies of the BC Liberals.

Judging by Mills sleight of hand opinionating in favor of the BC Liberals it wouldn’t surprise me if he is gunning to replace the oddly absent Tom Fletcher as Black Press’s new Liberal Party promoting columnist.

In the depths of my heart and soul I hope this is not indicative of a new direction for Dogwood. They have been an important part of community organizing for healthier more sustainable communities in BC. They would be greatly missed!

Norm Reynolds