Site C

Half of British Columbians Support Review or Cancellation of Site C Dam

Site C dam construction | Garth Lenz

Almost exactly a year ago, B.C. Hydro touted “broad support” for its controversial Site C dam — a mega hydro dam on the Peace River that would flood 107 kilometres of river valley, forcing farmers and First Nations off their land.

Now, as besieged Premier Christy Clark puts all her spin doctoring powers to work to attempt to save the dam from being canned, new polling from Angus Reid shows that more British Columbians want to review or cancel the project than want to let the project go ahead.

Those numbers are pretty remarkable when you consider that Site C is already almost two years into construction and BC Hydro has put considerable resources into quieting critical media coverage of the project. 

Horgan to Hydro: Don’t Sign New Site C Contracts or Evict Residents

Arlene Boon

B.C. NDP Leader John Horgan has written to B.C. Hydro CEO Jessica McDonald to urge the crown corporation not to finalize any contracts or evict any residents to make way for the Site C dam until a new government is in place.

I note that the majority of British Columbians who voted in this election voted for parties that want to see the Site C project reviewed or stopped,” Horgan wrote to McDonald.

A co-operation agreement between the B.C. NDP and Green Party released this week indicated that if the NDP forms government, Site C will immediately be sent for an expedited review by the B.C. Utilities Commission.

However, construction will not be paused during the review, which has led to concerns that irreversible harm could be done to the Peace Valley in the coming months. Enter today’s letter to McDonald.

I write to you today to express my concern regarding impacts on the community of Bear Flat, the West Moberly First Nation, the Prophet River First Nation, and other families and communities impacted by the government’s decision to expropriate lands for the advancement of Site C,” Horgan wrote.

Site C Dam Set to Finally Undergo Review of Costs and Demand

Horgan Weaver NDP-Green Agreement Site C

The controversial $9 billion Site C dam project will be sent for immediate review with the B.C. Utilities Commission if NDP Leader John Horgan becomes B.C.’s premier, according to a landmark agreement between the NDP and Greens.

The agreement outlines the terms of a power-sharing agreement as well as a path forward on key election issues, including the future of the Site C dam.

The agreement sets out a requirement to “immediately refer the Site C construction project to the B.C. Utilities Commission” to investigate the economic viability and consequences of the project for British Columbians.

During the election campaign the Greens vowed to stop the Site C project outright while the NDP committed to send the project for independent review by the B.C. Utilities Commission, a body designed to regulate BC Hydro and electricity rates. The B.C. Liberals exempted Site C from utilities commission scrutiny.

‘We Just Want the Truth’: Commercial Customers Warn B.C. Hydro’s Forecasts Could Lead to Costly Oversupply

BC Hydro President Jessica Mcdonald

An association representing B.C.’s commercial sector and business interests says it has compelling evidence that B.C. Hydro has over forecasted electricity demand over the past 50 years — leading to anticipated revenues “that won’t show up” and creating a large existing electricity surplus roughly equal to the power from the Site C dam.

The end result, according to David Craig, the executive director of the Commercial Energy Consumers Association of B.C., could be cumulative new hydro rate increases so significant that that some industries in B.C. may no longer be able to compete as well in their world markets, potentially risking the viability of some businesses and the jobs they support.

Craig confirmed that his association is challenging B.C. Hydro’s projections of power demand — known as “load forecasts” — in an on-going proceeding at the B.C. Utilities Commission, the agency responsible for approving hydro rate increases.

We just want to get the truth,” said Craig, who previously spent more than 20 years working for B.C. Hydro in various management positions, including as the head of the utility’s accounting group and internal audit function.

B.C. Government Delays Release of Site C Budget Docs Until After Election

B.C. Premier Christy Clark

After many months of delay and an attempt to charge almost $1,000 to release an updated budget and timeline for the Site C dam, the B.C. government has finally agreed to provide new information about the most expensive publicly funded project in B.C.’s history.

But the public will not be privy to the information until May 30, three weeks after the provincial election, B.C. Energy Minister Bill Bennett’s office has informed DeSmog Canada following a Freedom of Information request.

Sean Holman, a journalism professor and freedom of information advocate, said withholding such important knowledge on the eve of an election is an unfortunate example of continued efforts by provincial governments across the country to “fortify secrecy rather than to facilitate openness.”

B.C. Scales Down Energy-Saving Measures to Manufacture Demand for Site C: UBC Report

Christy Clark Site C dam, energy conservation cancelled

Way back in the good ole days of 2010, B.C. released the Clean Energy Act, a plan that required the province to conserve massive amounts of energy.

And, all in all, B.C. has been pretty good at that. But that all changed in 2013 when the B.C. government approved the Site C dam.

According to a new report released this week by the University of British Columbia’s Program on Water Governance, since 2013 B.C. has “moderated” energy conservation measures even though those measures would have reduced B.C.’s power demand, at a significantly cheaper cost than building Site C.

These measures include codes and standards for building efficiency, stepped rate structures to reduce energy consumption, and programs like low interests loans and tax breaks designed to encourage the adoption of more energy efficient technologies and practices.

Five Facepalm-Worthy Facts from UBC’s New Analysis on the Site C Dam

Site C dam

The Site C dam no longer makes economic sense and construction on the project should be halted immediately, according to researchers from the University of British Columbia.

That recommendation comes on the heels of a major new study that examines the business case for Site C given major changes in economic and energy market conditions since the project was first proposed in the 1980s.

We brought together a team of experts in energy and engineering and took a look at the business case for Site C as it stands today,” Karen Bakker, professor at the University of British Columbia and co-author of the report, told DeSmog Canada.

In fact it’s so weak, we’re arguing the project should be paused.”

The Startling Similarities Between Newfoundland's Muskrat Falls Boondoggle and B.C.'s Site C Dam

Ken Boon, Site C dam construction

Residents of Newfoundland and Labrador are preparing for electricity rates to double in the next five years, adding an estimated $150 per month in power costs for the average homeowner, as a consequence of building the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric dam — and experts warn it could be a cautionary tale for British Columbia.

“Muskrat Falls was not the right choice for the power needs of this province,” public power company CEO Stan Marshall told the press last year, confirming the project is a “boondoggle.”

“It was a gamble and it's gone against us.”

Meantime in British Columbia, debate continues over whether to continue building the 1,100 megawatt Site C hydro dam on the Peace River, estimated to cost $9 billion, at a time that power demand has been essentially flat for 10 years, despite population growth.

There are a lot of parallels between British Columbia and Newfoundland,” David Vardy, former CEO of the Newfoundland Public Utilities Board, told DeSmog Canada. “There’s the same fixation with the megaproject.”

VIDEO: Site C Dam an ‘Economic Disaster,’ Says Former Premier Mike Harcourt

In a sit-down video interview, former B.C. Premier Mike Harcourt told DeSmog Canada the Site C dam, proposed for the Peace River, is “a bad idea” and should be abandoned immediately.

Tweet: “#SiteC is going to be a disaster economically, environmentally, culturally for #FirstNations & shouldn’t be built.” http://bit.ly/2mnDX9DSite C is going to be a disaster economically, environmentally, culturally for First Nations and shouldn’t be built,” Harcourt said.

Site C, originally projected to cost B.C. ratepayers $5.5 billion, is now estimated to cost $9 billion.

Harcourt said Site C follows a long history of hydro project cost overruns.

The average overage cost of dams worldwide over the last 70 years have averaged 90 per cent overage. So you can assume Site C is going to cost, probably, $15 billion to $17 billion dollars,” he said.

BC Hydro Let Off Hook for $400,000 Site C Dam Fine … Again

Site C dam construction

Sandbags, bales of weed-free straw, crushed gravel and silt fencing are among the extra supplies BC Hydro has stockpiled at the Site C dam construction site to avoid federal fines.

In early January the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency issued BC Hydro with a Notice of Intent to Issue an Order after inspectors found that “no erosion and sediment contingency supplies” were to be found at three sites.

The agency also noted BC Hydro could face fines of up to $400,000 for not meeting the conditions set out in its environmental certificate. 

It’s not the first time BC Hydro has been found in contravention of the law. In May, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency found BC Hydro had failed to measure air pollution and threatened BC Hydro with a $400,000 fine.

BC Hydro, in a Jan. 5 letter to the Environmental Assessment Agency, said all measures had been taken to restore the Site C project to a “state of conformity,” and, after studying photographs supplied by BC Hydro, the agency agreed that there was no need to issue the order, which could have resulted in hefty fines.

Pages

Subscribe to Site C