Suspend, restart Site C is least attractive scenario

Lloyd Doyle
November 1, 2017

The dam's price tag for B.C. taxpayers will likely overshoot BC Hydro's budget by almost $2 billion, the B.C. Utilities Commission concluded Wednesday.

Back in August, B.C.'s NDP government ordered to review the controversial $8.9 billion project, and provide guidance on three alternate possibilities: finishing the dam, cancelling it or pausing it.

The panel found that cancelling the project and re-mediating the site will cost about $1.8 billion, on top of the cost of finding alternative power sources. It describes the option of suspending work and restarting it in 2024 as the "least attractive of the three scenarios" set out by the government.

The commission says it increasingly believes viable alternative energy sources including wind, geothermal and industrial curtailment could provide similar benefits to the Site C dam with an equal or lower cost.

British Columbia's former Liberal government approved the project in 2014, saying it would help meet a surge in electricity needs over the next 20 years. "We are going to take the time we need to make a decision on Site C that works for BC families, businesses, and the sustainability of our environment and economy". Work continued while the review was underway.

Though Mungall said government will consult First Nations in order to keep their commitment to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP), she said the final decision on how to proceed will be up to Cabinet.

Proponents of the dam and the B.C. Liberals argue it is past the point of no return, with cancellation costs in the billions.

The West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations argue flooding 5,500 hectares of the Peace River valley for the Site C dam infringes on their constitutionally-protected treaty rights and destroys traditional hunting land as well as important cultural sites and burial grounds.

Earlier in October, B.C. Hydro admitted it would miss a critical construction milestone to divert the Peace River by 2019, a delay it said would not interfere with the final completion date, but one that will add $600 million to the final tab, bringing it to $8.9 billion.

Hydro's 866-page submission to the commission says completing the dam as planned would still be best for ratepayers and terminating the project would cost $7.3 billion on a present-value basis.

A report submitted for the commission's review by auditing firm Deloitte LLP said the dam's construction faces major risks including contractor performance problems, unforeseen geotechnical conditions and cost issues related to major contracts that haven't been awarded yet.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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