ConstructionEnvironmentGovernmentVictoria

Site C: What’s the big dam deal?

Massive hydroelectric generating station gets green light from Government of B.C.

The British Columbia government will complete construction of the Site C hydroelectric dam, saying that to do otherwise would put British Columbians on the hook for an immediate and unavoidable $4-billion bill – with nothing in return – resulting in rate hikes or reduced funds for schools, hospitals and important infrastructure.

“It’s clear that Site C should never have been started. But to cancel it would add billions to the Province’s debt – putting at risk our ability to deliver housing, child care, schools and hospitals for families across B.C. And that’s a price we’re not willing to pay,” says Premier John Horgan.

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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?

Andrew Weaver responded to the Government of B.C.’s decision to proceed with the construction of Site C.

“Our caucus is extremely disheartened by this decision. It is fiscally reckless to continue with Site C and my colleagues and I did everything we could to make this clear to the government,” said Weaver.

“[The decision] reflects a sad reality for B.C., and British Columbians deserve better. They deserve a vision grounded in bold ideas that will enable our province to be a leader in the 21st century economy, not more empty campaign promises and political calculations.”

Prior to the ultimate approval of the project, the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative (Y2Y) partnered with the Sierra Club of BC and the Peace Valley Environment Association to protest the project.

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The initiative’s ad campaign labelled 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.

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.

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

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