ConstructionEnvironmentGovernmentVictoria

Site C: What’s the big dam deal?

Massive hydroelectric generating station is a balancing act between jobs, energy production and environmental, cultural trade offs

Site C is well underway. Ground broke more than two years ago, billions of tax dollars have been invested and thousands of workers are on the clock. Still the Government of B.C. is expected to decide whether to forge ahead or mothball the $9-billion hydro-electric project by the end of the year.

So what if Site C goes ahead?

According to BC Hydro, Site C will be the third dam and hydroelectric generating station on the Peace River in northeast B.C. It’s expected to provide 1,100 megawatts of capacity, and produce about 5,100 gigawatt hours of electricity each year — enough energy to power about 450,000 B.C. homes each year.

Construction of the project started in summer 2015 with completion expected in 2024. Once built, BC Hydro says, Site C will provide clean, reliable and affordable electricity to British Columbians for more than 100 years.

Dammed if we do

But the hangover isn’t worth the party says one Site C critic. The Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative (Y2Y) has partnered with the Sierra Club of BC and the Peace Valley Environment Association to launch a campaign to protest the project’s potential green light.


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The initiative’s ad campaign labels Site C as an expensive, obsolete form of energy production that’s irresponsible to pursue in the face of better and cheaper alternatives. The project will result in “big hits” to B.C.’s infrastructure, spending and “collective soul,” says Candace Batycki, B.C./Yukon Program Director for Y2Y.

Rendering of Site C Dam

According to Batycki, British Columbians can expect dramatic increases to hydro bills to pay for producing electricity they don’t need that will inevitably sell at a loss, plus expensive legal battles with First Nations and foreclosure of B.C. careers working in renewable energy because the province’s resources are tied up in Site C instead of developing a clean-energy economy.

One impact could affect more than just conversations around B.C. dinner tables.

“[ Site C will mean ] flooding some of B.C.’s best farmland that, according to agrologists, could feed a million people. Very foolish in this era where climate change is impacting food-baskets in the southern U.S. When food prices soar, that’s a pocket-book hit.” she says.

What’s Site C’s fate?

Recently Andrew Weaver, leader of the B.C. Greens, said in a letter to the Financial Post he’s convinced the B.C. NDP will decide to keep building the dam when the December deadline approaches, citing sunk costs and jobs. “I can’t see them giving pink slips to thousands of people on Christmas Eve,” he said.

To learn more about Site C, visit Y2Y’s www.justthedamfacts.ca and BC Hydro’s www.sitecproject.com.

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