Slope stabilization work continues on the north bank of the Peace River for the Site C dam, September 2017. (B.C. Hydro)

UPDATE: Decision time for John Horgan on Site C dam

Energy Minister Michelle Mungall says delaying it is off the table

Premier John Horgan’s cabinet intends to make a decision on whether to continue building the most expensive construction project in B.C. history by the end of 2017.

The B.C. Utilities Commission released its independent report on the project Wednesday, ordered by Horgan to fulfil a promise he has repeated many times since becoming NDP leader.

The BCUC report questions whether Site C can make its 2024 completion date, and concludes the cost “may” exceed $10 billion. 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.

Energy Minister Michelle Mungall said Wednesday the report is technical and requires further study, but one thing that is clear is that delaying Site C is not an option that would protect B.C. Hydro ratepayers from unnecessary rate increases.

In the legislature Wednesday, Peace River South MLA Mike Bernier called on the government to make a decision within a month, to provide certainty to the people working at Site C. Eight years of study done under the B.C. Liberal government, and court decisions saying consultation with affected people was adequate, mean no further delay is needed, Bernier said.

Green Party leader Andrew Weaver said the report “should be viewed as the final nail in the coffin of Site C,” due to potential cost overruns and the B.C. Liberal government’s rush to secure fixed-term electricity supply to liquefied natural gas projects.

“The one issue of concern” is the transfer of the $4 billion cost of scrapping Site C to be added to the provincial debt, Weaver said.

Horgan’s government instructed BCUC to come up with cost estimates for completing the dam, pausing construction for a more thorough review of alternatives and future electricity demand, or stopping it and restoring the project area.

The report estimates the cost of shutting down Site C and remediating the project area to be $1.8 billion, plus the cost of finding alternative energy sources to meet demand, on top of the $2 billion already spent.

“The suspension and restart scenario adds at least an additional $3.6 billion to final costs and is by far the most expensive of the three scenarios,” the report states.

The BCUC panel also concluded that “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.”

Horgan said Tuesday that one more round of consultation with area Indigenous communities will be conducted next by Indigenous Relations Minister Scott Fraser, and then cabinet will consider its options.

B.C. Hydro has already awarded the major contracts for the powerhouse, river diversion and main civil works in the riverbed.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Okanagan Wildfires: An afternoon update on wildfires and evacuations

A Sunday afternoon look at the major wildfires impacting the Okanagan and Similkameen.

VIDEO: Sailing under the sun at the BC Games

Maple Bay in the Cowichan Valley was host to dozens of athletes sailing on small prams to planing dinghys

BC Wildfire holding steady on Okanagan Complex

Evening update on Okanagan fire situation

Wild fires blaze in the Okanagan, in your words

We have compiled a community photo album of your wildfire photos

Power couple speed into top spot at L’Alpe de Grand Blanc at Big White

The professional riders have been training all year

BC Games: Day 3 wrap and closing ceremonies

The torch in the Cowichan Valley has been extinguished as Fort St. John gets ready to host the 2020 BC Winter Games

Police confirm girl, 8 others injured in Toronto shooting; shooter dead

Paramedics said many of the victims in Danforth, including a child, were rushed to trauma centres

Why do they do it? Coaches guide kids to wins, personal bests at the BC Games

Behind the 2,300 B.C. athletes are the 450 coaches who dedicate time to help train, compete

Reel Reviews: Floundering inferno

We quote Charlie Brown: “Good grief!”

UPDATE: Five taken to hospital following one of two Coquihalla accidents

One airlifted in critical condition, four taken via ambulance in stable condition

Ottawa fails to find alternative buyer for Trans Mountain pipeline by deadline

The feds had announced it was purchasing the $4.5 billion pipeline earlier this spring

Government sets full-time salary range for Justin Trudeau’s nanny

At its top range, the order works out to a rate of $21.79 per hour, assuming a 40-hour work week

Lower Mainland teams battle for baseball gold at BC Games

Vancouver Coastal squeaked out a 3-2 win against Fraser Valley

The Northern Secwepemc te Qelmucw people signed an agreement-in-principle with the B.C. government

The signing ceremony, at the Eliza Archie Memorial School, was 25 years in the making

Most Read