Site C

Did BC Hydro Execs Mislead Public About Cost of Site C Dam?

Site C construction BC Hydro

BC Hydro executives have mismanaged the Site C dam’s overall budget and cost control process, and they are “not capable” of accurate estimates or controlling costs on the $10.7 billion project, according to an affidavit filed this week by former BC Hydro CEO Marc Eliesen.

The necessary experience and due diligence rigour required for managing a major hydro project such as Site C is deficient among the executive at BC Hydro,” says Eliesen in the affidavit, noting that it has been more than 30 years since BC Hydro constructed a major generating station.

The knowledge and expertise required, which formerly resided in the company, has retired or moved on.”

The 30-page affidavit, filed in B.C. Supreme Court as part of a new legal case against Site C by two Treaty 8 First Nations, reads like a Site C dam financial WhoDunnit.

Site C Dam Decision Causes Friction Within NDP Ranks Ahead of Provincial Council Meeting

Site C Annoucement Horgan Mungall Heyman

When B.C. cabinet members arrive at the NDP’s provincial council meeting tomorrow in New Westminster, they will face a group of “very concerned” delegates and party members who are urging the government to reconsider its decision to proceed with the Site C dam.

We’re not going to let this rest,” said Jef Keighley, vice-president of the Surrey South NDP constituency association. “The NDP campaigned on the whole concept of transparency so let’s be transparent.”

Keighley is one of 400 people — the majority of them NDP members and supporters — who attended a Site C Summit in Victoria last weekend aimed at making the government accountable for its decision to continue with Site C and outlining an action plan to stop the $10.7 billion project on the Peace River.

Site C Dam Eyed to Power Yukon’s Mining Boom

Pit at the abandoned Faro Mine, Yukon

A new proposal to send power from B.C.’s Site C dam to remote Yukon mines is baffling on both environmental and financial grounds, according to Yukon mining analyst Lewis Rifkind.

Rifkind, a civil engineer who works for the Yukon Conservation Society in Whitehorse, said beyond environmental concerns associated with the mines, the “lunatic” cost of building more than a thousand kilometres of transmission lines for short-term projects makes the prospect nonsensical.

The Pitfalls of Short-Circuited Project Reviews

Early Site C construction in 2016. Photo: Garth Lenz

Mark Winfield is professor of environmental studies at York University and co-chair of the university’s Sustainable Energy Initiative. This piece originally appeared on Policy Options.

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball announced in late November a public inquiry into how the economically disastrous Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project was approved.

In reality, there is little mystery.

‘Deck Stacked’ Against First Nations Seeking Site C Injunction, Experts Say

Chief Roland Willson

Can the Site C dam still be stopped?

It all boils down to one B.C. Supreme Court judge who will decide whether or not to grant First Nations an injunction against the project this spring, according to legal scholars who are keenly watching a new legal case against the $10.7 billion dam.

This week West Moberly First Nations and Prophet River First Nation filed notices of civil action claiming that the Site C dam — along with two existing dams on the Peace River — infringes on rights guaranteed to them in Treaty 8, which promised they could continue their traditional way of life.

The nations requested the court declare approvals for Site C issued by the B.C. and federal governments “unconstitutional,” and asked for an injunction to halt work on a project that will destroy traditional hunting, trapping and fishing grounds, as well as areas rich in berries, herbs and medicines.

Site C’s Shaky Economic Justification Is Proof It’s Time To Make Decisions Differently

Site C Decision

This piece originally appeared on the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

There is no question that the new B.C. government’s decision to proceed with the Site C dam was a very difficult one. The previous government left them with a poison pill.

With $2 billion already spent, the Horgan government faced a no-win choice, with substantial political and economic costs for either terminating or proceeding with what is one of the largest and most expensive capital projects in B.C. history.

I don’t envy them.

First Nations File Civil Action Against Site C, Citing Treaty 8 Infringement

Site C Garth Lenz

The West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations filed a civil suit in the Supreme Court of British Columbia Tuesday claiming the Site C dam, along with two other hydroelectric projects on the Peace River, unjustifiably infringe on their constitutionally protected rights under Treaty 8.

The two nations, whose traditional territory will be flooded by the Site C reservoir, have also requested an injunction on Site C construction work be reviewed by the courts this spring.

The cumulative impact of the Bennett, Peace Canyon, and Site C Dams is to turn the Peace River into a series of reservoirs, destroying the unique cultural and ecological character of the Peace, severing the physical, practical, cultural and spiritual connection the Prophet have with the Peace, and infringing [West Moberly and Prophet’s] Treaty Rights,” the civil action states.

NDP Government’s Site C Math a Flunk, Say Project Financing Experts

Site C dam John Horgan Bad Math

The NDP government’s arithmetic on Site C cancellation costs is “deeply flawed,” has “no logic at all,” and is “appalling,” according to three project financing experts.  

Eoin Finn, a retired partner of KPMG, one of the world’s largest auditing firms, said Premier John Horgan’s claim that terminating Site C would result in an almost immediate 12 per cent hydro rate hike is the “worst rationale I’ve heard since ‘the dog ate my homework’” excuse.  

I expected better when the new government came in,” said Finn. “They’ve just continued what [former premier] Christy Clark did to hide the true costs of Site C and hope that they get re-elected before the next generation finds out.”

This is the stupidest capital decision ever made by a B.C. premier. I don’t know who is giving them accounting advice.”

How The Media Failed British Columbians on the Site C Dam

Media Failed British Columbians on the Site C Dam

There is much to debate about Monday’s decision by the B.C. government to move forward with the Site C dam, but one thing is not debatable: construction should never have started without a full review of costs and demand.

Who’s to blame for that review never happening? Of course the BC Liberals are ultimately responsible for charging ahead with the most expensive public project in B.C.’s history without certainty the power was either a) needed or b) the least expensive of the options available.

But those in power will always be prone to making bull-headed decisions in their own political interests. For democracy to function, a healthy news media needs to challenge the powerful and doggedly defend the public interest. In the case of the Site C dam, this simply wasn’t the case.

The Site C Dam: a Timeline

Site C construction

The Site C dam has lived many lives before its approval today by Premier John Horgan, from a twinkle in the eye of some BC Hydro engineers, to the target of multiple lawsuits, to two damning reports by the utilities regulator, to “the point of no return.”

Below, we've collected a few of the key moments in its life up to now. 

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