Site C

‘Stop the Losses’: Former BC Hydro CEO Calls for Cancellation of Site C Dam

Site C dam construction

The decision to proceed with the Site C dam was “reckless and irresponsible” and continuing the project will result in a “series of devastating high electricity rate increases” that will lead to job losses and business failures, the former President and CEO of BC Hydro has told the B.C. Utilities Commission in a formal submission.

Marc Eliesen, who was at the helm of BC Hydro from 1992 to 1994, outlined why he believes the only financially responsible course of action is to cancel the $8.8 billion project and remediate the Peace River site in order to minimize Site C’s negative impact on BC Hydro customers and taxpayers.

Both the former government and BC Hydro’s Board abdicated their fiduciary responsibility to the rate payers and tax payers of this province,” Eliesen said in his 22-page submission to the BCUC, which is conducting a fast-tracked review of Site C’s finances and construction schedule.

There never was a business case for the start-up of construction of Site C, and there is not a business case to support its continuation or postponement.”

EXCLUSIVE: BC Hydro Spent $20 Million Quietly Buying Land for Site C Before Dam Was Approved

Ken and Arlene Boon

BC Hydro spent more than $20 million quietly buying up Peace Valley property for the Site C hydro dam in the four years before the project was approved, according to documents obtained by DeSmog Canada.

The cost of the land purchases has never been publicly disclosed by BC Hydro, and only came to light as a result of a Freedom of Information (FOI) request.

Even then, it took more than four months after the request was filed for BC Hydro to release the figures, and the information was only provided following an appeal to the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner (OIPC) after BC Hydro said it was extending the legal deadline for response. The OIPC found that BC Hydro “did not provide sufficient evidence” to justify a time extension.

It's Finally Happening: Site C Gets Its Date with the B.C. Utilities Commission

Ken Boon

David Vardy has a message for British Columbia about continuing work on the Site C dam while the project undergoes a quick independent review by the B.C. Utilities Commission (BCUC).

My comment to British Columbia is a big red sign saying ‘Stop.’ This is crazy. Don’t go ahead with this [project],” Vardy told DeSmog Canada.

While the review is taking place the activity should be suspended.”

Vardy is the former chair and CEO of Newfoundland’s public utilities board, which reviewed the “boondoggle” Muskrat Falls dam after a new provincial government came to power. As in the case of Site C and B.C.’s former Liberal government, the previous Newfoundland government had refused to allow independent scrutiny of Muskrat Falls.

On Wednesday the B.C. cabinet instructed the BCUC to provide two reports on Site C — a preliminary report by September 20 and a final report by November 1.

What You Need to Know About the B.C. Utilities Commission and the Site C Dam

Site C dam construction

Until 11:13 on Monday morning, the B.C. Utilities Commission (BCUC) had a website that was as much of a snoozer as its name. It had tiny lines of text and looked like something that harkened back to the horse and buggy days of the World Wide Web.

Just as all eyes turn to the BCUC — which will begin a review of the Site C hydro dam project any day now — the commission is striving to find a bit more sizzle and pop when it comes to public relations.

It launched a new website on Monday, with big photos and cute little icons representing BCUC areas of oversight: electricity utilities, gas utilities, intra provincial oil pipelines and auto insurance.

Year-Long Wait for Site C Dam Budget Docs 'Disturbing': Expert

Site C dam construction

Are you curious to know the results of our Freedom of Information request for an updated budget and timeline for the $8.8 billion Site C dam project on B.C.’s Peace River?

So are we.

We were told by former energy minister Bill Bennett’s office that we would have the information on May 30, three weeks after the provincial election and nine months after we filed our request.

But then we received an e-mail from the ministry on May 24, advising us that the deadline had been extended by 45 business days. It had become apparent upon reviewing 880 pages of relevant records, said the e-mail from a government FOI specialist, “that an external consultation is required with BC Hydro.”

New Aerial Photos Show Site C Construction Impact As Utilities Commission Review Looms

 Site C Construction Peace River Comparison July 2017

Although former B.C. premier Christy Clark vowed to push the $9-billion Site C dam past the “point of no return” before the May 2017 provincial election, the fate of the most expensive public project in B.C.’s history is still far from certain.

B.C.'s new NDP government has vowed to send the dam for an expedited review of costs and demand by the B.C. Utilities Commission within a speedy six-week timeframe. 

New aerial photos of Site C construction show a small stretch of the Peace River valley significantly altered by excavation crews. The building of the actual dam and associated infrastructure has yet to take place. Unless the project is stopped, construction is expected to continue until 2024 when the filling of the reservoir will flood 107 kilometres of river valley, flooding valuable agricultural land and First Nations historic sites.

An analysis by the Program on Water Governance at the University of British Columbia found that, if completed, Site C would operate at a 100 per cent surplus incurring an estimated $800 million to $2 billion loss to B.C. ratepayers. That same analysis calculated cancellation of Site C by the end of June 2017 would save B.C. between $500 million and $1.65 billion.

Site C Dam Late for Key Milestones Under BC Liberals, Report Reveals

Site C dam construction

B.C. Premier Christy Clark made headlines last month when she claimed that even a few months delay in evicting two Peace Valley families from their homes could add $600 million to the Site C dam project tab.

When Premier designate John Horgan asked BC Hydro to hold off forcing families from their homes this coming week as scheduled, Clark wrote to Horgan that “…with a project of this size and scale, keeping to a tight schedule is critical to delivering a completed project on time and on budget.”

But now BC Hydro’s latest Site C report reveals that — well before May’s provincial election and Clark’s headline-grabbing claims — the hydro project was already late meeting three out of eight “key milestones” for 2017 and was at risk of being late for three more.

It begs the question: was Clark trying to deflect blame for Site C construction delays and potential cost overruns onto the soon-to-be NDP government?

First Nations Case Against Site C Won't Be Heard by Supreme Court of Canada

Site C Dam First Nations Legal Challenge

The Supreme Court of Canada has refused to hear an appeal brought by the West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations that argues the federal government failed to consider their constitutionally protected treaty rights when approving the $9 billion Site C dam in northeast B.C.

The rejection by Canada’s highest court has members of Treaty 8 First Nations wondering who bears the responsibility for determining whether or not a major project like Site C infringes on their rights as a treaty nation.

This is very sad news,” Roland Willson, Chief of the West Moberly, told Desmog Canada.

We have a treaty that is a part of the Constitution of Canada and there is no legal mechanism to protect the constitution, that piece of the constitution,” he said.

Every other part of the Constitution they won’t tread on except the part that’s got to do with Indians — they’ll walk all over that.”

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.

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