Site C decision Monday


Construction of the Moberly River construction bridge, looking northeast. (October 2016)

The province will learn the fate of the partially completed Site C hydroelectric dam tomorrow.

The premier’s office has issued an advisory stating that an announcement will be made Monday morning. There will be a technical briefing (lock up) for Victoria media at 10:30 a.m. followed by the announcement as soon as the briefing is completed.

Premier John Horgan ordered a British Columbia Utilities Commission review of the project earlier this year.

The commission determined the project is neither likely to finish on time nor on budget, according to its report filed this fall.

In fact, the cost may climb as high as $10 billion, according to the commission’s final report.

“This was a challenging project with a very tight timeframe,” said David Morton, Chair & CEO of the BCUC. “With the significant contributions of those who participated in this Inquiry, the panel and commission staff worked very hard to produce a report that will assist the government in its decision making.”

The commission was charged with determining whether the project should continue to proceed, be scrapped completely, or be mothballed with the idea that it would be resurrected at a later date. The latter was the “least attractive” of the three.

The Site C Inquiry Panel received 620 written submissions, and heard from 304 speakers during 11 community input sessions throughout the province, including Prince George. In addition, the panel held three First Nations input sessions and two technical presentation sessions.

The Panel’s key findings are:

  • The BCUC is not persuaded that the Site C project will remain on schedule for a November 2024 in‐ service date. The Panel also finds that the project is not within the proposed budget of $8.335 billion. Currently, completion costs may be in excess of $10 billion.
  • The panel finds the least attractive of the three scenarios is to suspend and restart the project in 2024. The suspension and restart scenario adds at least an estimated $3.6 billion to final costs and is by far the most expensive of the three scenarios. In addition, the panel considers it the most risky scenario because, among other things, environmental permits will expire and that will require new applications and approvals.
  • The panel finds the Site C termination and remediation costs to be approximately $1.8 billion, in addition to the costs of finding alternative energy sources to meet demand.
  • Regarding future energy needs, the panel finds BC Hydro’s mid load forecast to be excessively optimistic and considers it more appropriate to use the low load forecast in answering the questions set out in the inquiry. In addition, the panel is of the view that there are risks that could result in demand being less than the low case.
  • The panel believes increasingly viable alternative energy sources such as wind, geothermal and industrial curtailment could provide similar benefits to ratepayers as the Site C project, with an equal or lower Unit Energy Cost.
  • Neither completing Site C nor implementing a portfolio of alternative energy sources is without risk.