Harry Swain

What That 205-Page BCUC Report on the Site C Dam Actually Said

Site C dam construction

A much-anticipated preliminary report from B.C. Utilities Commission (BCUC) has raised numerous questions about the Site C dam, underlined the extent of missing and out-dated information and pointed out unknowns surrounding the largest and most expensive infrastructure project in B.C.

The 205-page report on the economic viability of the $8.8 billion dam was released only hours before the midnight Wednesday deadline, reflecting the tight timeframe given the panel of commissioners when the NDP government referred the controversial project to the utilities commission in early August.

The utilities commission is the independent body responsible for overseeing BC Hydro and ICBC, both crown corporations that use public funds. However, former premier Christy Clark decided to go ahead with the $8.8-billion plan to build a third dam on the Peace River without a review by the utilities commission.

Terminating Site C Dam, Building Alternatives Could Save B.C. Over $1B: Economist

Site c construction 2016

Karen Goodings avoids the Site C dam area on the Peace River because she finds it too heart-wrenching to look at the havoc caused by construction work, but, for the first time in years, she is now holding out hope that the $8.8-billion project will be scrapped.

I want to see it permanently stopped and now I think there is enough information out there to talk about alternate sources of power that are more economical and less devastating,” said Goodings, a Peace River Regional District director.

Her optimism has been boosted by reports underlining financial uncertainties with Site C and emphasizing that B.C.’s power needs can be met by wind, geothermal and solar projects.

Pull Plug on Site C Dam if Completion Costs More than $2B: Former Chair of Review Panel

Harry Swain

B.C. won’t need more electricity for many years and, when that time comes, there are less expensive alternatives than the Site C dam, says a submission filed with the B.C. Utilities Commission on Monday by Harry Swain, the man who chaired the federal-provincial review panel of the project.

Demand will not materialize at even the low limit of BC Hydro’s demand forecast,” Swain writes, as he cautions the commission from relying too heavily on BC Hydro’s forecasts.

The issue is that BC Hydro’s 2016 load forecast is no more credible than its numerous predecessors,” Swain writes. 

Swain calls on the commission to “undertake its own research and analysis,” rather than simply adjudicating among submissions received during the review.

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.

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.

Why It's Not Too Late to Stop the Site C Dam

“Hydro’s demand forecasts are persistently and systematically wrong. There is no reason to believe that much new power, if any, will be required in the next 20 to 30 years. But if there is, there are several alternatives available which are markedly less expensive and less damaging to Aboriginal interests, fisheries and the environment generally, than Site C.”

Those are the words of Harry Swain, who chaired the review of the Site C dam, in an affidavit filed in federal court this week.

VIDEO: 70% of British Columbians Support Pausing Site C Dam Construction, New Poll Finds

Site C dam construction

British Columbians overwhelmingly want BC Hydro’s Site C dam sent for an independent review and support pausing construction on the $8.8 billion project while alternatives are investigated, according to a new poll conducted by Insights West.

The poll, sponsored by readers of DeSmog Canada, found that 73 per cent of British Columbians support sending the Site C dam for an independent review of both costs and demand, as recommended by the Joint Review Panel in its 2014 report.

Seven in 10 respondents supported pausing construction of Site C to investigate alternatives to meet future power demand.

When pondering Site C, British Columbians are favouring caution and not hubris,” said Mario Canseco, vice president of public affairs at Insights West. Tweet: ‘Most [British Columbians] are willing to switch the focus to efficiency & alternative sources’ http://bit.ly/2fG5o8E #SiteC #bcpoli“Most are willing to switch the focus to efficiency and alternative sources.”

New Video: Cutting Through the Spin on the Site C Dam with Harry Swain

Emma Gilchrist

There are a number of arguments against the controversial Site C dam, planned for the Peace River Valley: it floods First Nations land against their consent; it will destroy prized agricultural land; it requires expropriating land from B.C. families and farmers; it will increase the cost of electricity for power B.C. doesn’t even need.

A variety of experts have also come forward to say the project wasn’t properly reviewed and that the B.C. government failed to explore alternatives to the $9 billion project — the most expensive public infrastructure project in the province’s history.

But what are the arguments for the Site C dam? And do they have any merit?

DeSmog Canada’s Emma Gilchrist met with Harry Swain, the man appointed by the B.C. government to chair the joint review panel for Site C, to discuss some of the most commonly used arguments to justify the project.

‘No Need for Site C’: Review Panel Chair Speaks Out Against Dam in New Video

Harry Swain, Chair of the Site C Joint Review Panel

A new video released today by DeSmog Canada features an exclusive video interview with Harry Swain, chair of the federal-provincial panel tasked with reviewing the controversial Site C dam.

Tweet: EXCLUSIVE video from #SiteC review chair: ‘I think we’re making a big mistake, a very expensive one.’ http://bit.ly/28Mt762 #bcpoliI think we’re making a big mistake, a very expensive one,” Swain says in the video. “Of the $9 billion it will cost, at least $7 billion will never be returned. You and I as rate payers will end up paying $7 billion bucks for something we get nothing for.”

Since 2005, domestic demand for electricity in B.C. has been essentially flat, making it difficult to justify the dam which will flood 107 kilometres of the Peace River and destroy thousands of hectares of prime agricultural land.  

There is no need for Site C,” Swain says. “If there was a need, we could meet it with a variety of other renewable and smaller scale sources.”

What BC Hydro is Hiding in its Misleading Site C Poll

Site C dam construction

In polling released by BC Hydro last week, the public power utility touts “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.

Hydro must have been counting on nobody taking a close look at the questions they asked respondents, because not only are they misleading, but they also tell another story entirely.

Let’s first address a glaring problem with the questions themselves: polling company Abacus Data began by asking British Columbians a multiple choice question about how to meet “increasing electricity demand.” 

There’s just one problem: B.C. does not have increasing electricity demand. In fact, electricity demand in B.C. has remained basically flat since 2005. But no, the pollster told all 1,000 telephone respondents that electricity demand is rising and we must meet it somehow.

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