Whistler International Campus proposal alive and well
In regard to G.D. Maxwell's column of last week, to paraphrase Mark Twain, "The reports of our death have been greatly exaggerated." The Whistler International Campus (formerly Whistler U) is a proposal that is alive and well.
The Whistler International Campus (WIC) team was delighted to discover that our project meets or exceeds all six of the identified core criteria put forward by the RMOW's Task Force on Learning and Education report.
The WIC vision offers an opportunity to diversify and strengthen Whistler's economy with a naturally spectacular campus that will attract students and leaders from around the world to experience the beauty and uniqueness of Whistler. Because we have well-established, accredited education partners, we can offer programs that support Whistler's economic goals as soon as the project receives RMOW approval.
And it won't cost the taxpayer a dime.
The Whistler International Campus is a chance for my immigrant family, who has experienced good fortune here in Canada, to leave a legacy in a community we care about. We want to build something that gives back to this community, offering a vibrant education experience as a means to diversify Whistler's economy.
Like the Michael Audain museum project, sometimes opportunities present themselves that seem too good to be true. But they are and WIC is one of those opportunities.
We encourage the community to share in our vision by visiting www.whistlerinternationalcampus.com or attend our on-site open house on August 17 from noon to 3 p.m. at the Alpha lands. Let's make Whistler the place where the world comes to learn and play.
Whistler International Campus
The value of private sector clean energy
Today, the clean energy sector is leading B.C.'s Jobs Plan and all British Columbians are beneficiaries.
Twelve projects which competitively won electricity-purchase contracts from BC Hydro in 2010, with capital expenditures totaling $2.6 billion, are being built as you read; projects such as Cape Scott Wind Farm on Vancouver Island, Kokish Hydro near Port McNeil, Forrest Kerr Hydro near Iskut, Kwoiek Creek hydro in the Fraser Canyon, Dasque Creek near Terrace, Skookum Hydro in Squamish and others. And 2,300 direct jobs, of which 690 are with Aboriginal people, have been created. An additional 6,000 indirect jobs through supply chains have been created in rural and urban places in the province.
Critics of clean energy state that electricity can be bought on the spot market for $35/MWh while the most recent purchase contracts with clean energy members is $94/MWh. The problem with this analysis is that no long-term economic development like B.C.'s Jobs Plan or LNG developments can be based upon the short term electricity spot market. Recall that in 2001, the same spot market exceeded $1,000/MWh and California faced rolling blackouts because it relied too heavily upon imported power.
A good analogy is choosing between a variable and fixed rate residential mortgage. If one locks into a long-term mortgage at five per cent and the rate drops to 2.5 per cent, one might have regrets. However if one chooses a variable rate mortgage at 2.5 per cent (i.e. spot market) with no option of renegotiating or locking-in later and the rates rise to 10 per cent then one is stuck with higher long-term costs. With a locked-in long-term mortgage at five per cent one has peace of mind of knowing what one's costs will be (analogous to long-term fixed price contract with clean energy supplier).
B.C.'s economic development has always been based upon the availability of long-term stable electricity at fair prices. BC Hydro's contracts with clean energy members are all long-term deals, up to 40 year terms at fixed prices except for a one-half of CPI escalator. The average price paid by BC Hydro in 2012 to private sector suppliers was $68/MWh. This is great value because no one can build new electricity generation for this price.
Today BC Hydro, a $10 billion company, has $15 billion in debts and $4 billion in accrued deferral accounts, which ratepayers will have to pay for. The long-term debt is almost all for capital replacement at old facilities such as John Hart and Ruskin and upgrades at Revelstoke and Mica dams. The deferral accounts include: imports that have not yet been paid for, pensions and post-employment benefits, First Nations negotiations and settlement costs, demand-side management programs (Powersmart), environmental compliance and Site C.
In 2011, BC Hydro sought a rate increase of 32.1 per cent which it tabled with the B.C. Utilities Commission. The government intervened and subsequently reduced the rate increase, however, the key point not to be lost is that only 2.6 per cent of the 32.1 per cent proposed increase was attributable to private sector clean energy producers.
Clean Energy BC member projects are built on time and on budget. Clean Energy member projects create jobs and pay taxes and enable First Nation economic development. We look forward to playing a key role in B.C.'s northern development plans including powering LNG with cost-effective clean energy.
Executive director, Clean Energy BC Vancouver