Disciplinary Notice: Peter Schober

Posted on February 1, 2022

On July 15, 2020, Engineers and Geoscientists BC issued a Notice of Inquiry alleging that Mr. Schober demonstrated unprofessional conduct and negligence when he manually changed the lake level data recording device installed at a hydroelectric site to record inaccurate lake levels. The Notice of Inquiry alleged that, by manually altering the device to record inaccurate data, Mr. Schober concealed the actual lake level and that he continued to provide, or allowed others to provide, incorrect lake level data to various government bodies over the course of 17 months. Finally, the Notice of Inquiry alleged that Mr. Schober, as a director and shareholder of the company that operated the hydroelectric facility, manually changed the lake level data recording device as he was motivated to maximize profits over the health of the natural environment. Following a hearing, a Panel of the Discipline Committee ordered Mr. Schober’s registration cancelled effective January 18, 2021, and that Mr. Schober is restricted from re-applying for registration with Engineers and Geoscientists BC for two years thereafter. The Panel also ruled that, prior to re-applying for registration, Mr. Schober must successfully complete the Professional Engineering and Geoscience Practice in BC Online Seminar and the Professional Practice Examination. The Panel further ordered that Mr. Schober pay legal costs of $60,699.93.

On July 15, 2020, Engineers and Geoscientists BC issued a Notice of Inquiry to Peter Schober, which included a series of background facts and allegations regarding Mr. Schober’s conduct.

Background Facts

  • On September 12, 2008, the BC Ministry of Environment (MOE) issued a Conditional Water License (the Water License) to Tyson Creek Hydro Corporation (TCHC) to operate the Tyson Creek Hydroelectric Project (the Project) in the vicinity of Tyson Lake, BC.
  • Between February 11, 2010 and August 4, 2011, Mr. Schober was a director, shareholder, and secretary of Renewable Power Corporation (RPC), and also a director and shareholder of TCHC, which operated the Tyson Creek Hydroelectric Project (the Project). During this period, Mr. Schober was motivated, by virtue of being a shareholder of RPC to ensure that the Project was profitable.
  • On or about January 22, 2010, the MOE granted TCHC leave to commence operation of the Project (Leave).
  • However, the Water License and Leave required that the Project comply with the Project’s Operating Parameters and Procedures Report (OPPR), which stipulated that a maximum drawdown of Tyson Lake for power generation use was 10 metres. Achieving a drawdown greater than 10 metres would improve TCHC’s potential for profit.
  • On or about February 17, 2010, staff at the BC Ministry of Forests and Range detected a significant discharge of sediment-laden water from the Project facility into Tyson Creek, and then into the Tzoonie River (the Sedimentation Incident). This discharge was related to the erosion of the Tyson Lake delta as a result of the drawdown of Tyson Lake as part of the Project’s operation.
  • Shortly after the Sedimentation Incident (on or about February 19, 2010), the MOE asked TCHC to undertake several actions, including ongoing monitoring of the Tyson Lake water levels, and provision of supporting records and data.
  • On or about April 23, 2010, the MOE issued an Order under the Water Act, which required TCHC to cease all diversion of water through the Project facility, undertake ongoing monitoring, and provide an Environmental Impact Assessment report.
  • On or about May 26, 2010, the MOE allowed the Project to recommence operations using drawdowns of water within the natural range of Tyson Lake water levels and required lake levels to be recorded and submitted to the MOE and Federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (the DFO).
  • On or about July 14, 2014, TCHC notified the BC Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (as it was then) that Mr. Schober manipulated records of the lake level reporting data to conceal that the lake levels were out of compliance.

Notice of Inquiry Allegations

The Notice of Inquiry outlined these background facts, and further alleged that Mr. Schober demonstrated unprofessional conduct and negligence, and acted contrary to the preamble and Principles 1 and 7 of the Engineers and Geoscientists BC Code of Ethics. Specifically, the Notice of Inquiry alleged that:

  • On or about February 11, 2010, before to the Sedimentation Incident, Mr. Schober manually changed the data recording device installed at the Project site, known as the Human Machine Interface (HMI), to provide inaccurately recorded lake levels as being approximately 6.4 metres higher than the actual lake levels. Mr. Schober concealed that lake levels were frequently drawn down more than 10 metres to elevations that were not permissible under the OPPR or Water License. 
  • Mr. Schober failed to correct the HMI, or ensure it was corrected by others, after Mr. Schober manually altered it.
  • Rather than correcting the HMI, on approximately 25 occasions between March 1, 2010 and August 4, 2011, Mr. Schober submitted, or allowed others to submit, water level data that he knew to be inaccurate to the MOE and/or the DFO. Mr. Schober also failed to notify the MOE and/or DFO of his conduct as set out above.
  • Mr. Schober failed to notify the MOE or the DFO of his conduct between February 11, 2010 to July 10, 2014.

A disciplinary hearing before the Panel of the Discipline Committee (the Panel) was scheduled for October 20–21, 2020. Before the hearing, on October 6, 2020, the parties appeared before the Panel and jointly confirmed that Mr. Schober admitted the conduct set out in the Notice of Inquiry. As a result of Mr. Schober’s admissions, the Panel directed that the scheduled hearing would only deal with penalty and costs.

On October 8, 2020, Engineers and Geoscientists BC and Mr. Schober formalized an Agreed Statement of Facts, in which Mr. Schober agreed to the background facts, and which appended a written document titled “Admissions” signed by Mr. Schober, which materially agreed to the facts and conduct listed in the Notice of Inquiry.

On January 18, 2021, the Panel issued its determination regarding Mr. Schober’s conduct, finding his conduct was negligent and unprofessional and contrary to the Engineers and Geoscientists Act, and that Mr. Schober acted contrary to Principles 1 and 7 of Engineers and Geoscientists BC’s Code of Ethics. The Panel ordered Mr. Schober’s registration cancelled effective January 18, 2021, and restricted Mr. Schober from re-applying for registration until January 18, 2023.  Before re-applying for registration, Mr. Schober must complete and pass the Professional Engineering and Geoscience Practice in BC Online Seminar and complete and pass the Professional Practice Examination.

Following further submissions, on September 20, 2021, the Panel ordered that Mr. Schober pay Engineers and Geoscientists BC costs of $60,699.93 within 30 days from the date of the order, and in accordance with section 10.10 of the Engineers and Geoscientists Bylaws.

The full text of the Disciplinary Orders can be found in the Disciplinary Notices section of our website, at egbc.ca/Discipline-Notices.

Engineers and Geoscientists BC’s website contains information on the complaint, investigation, and discipline processes. You can contact us at 604.558.6647 or toll-free at 1.888.430.8035 ext. 6647, or by email at [email protected].

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