Slope stabilization work continues on the north bank of the Peace River for the Site C dam, September 2017. (B.C. Hydro)

UPDATE: Decision time for John Horgan on Site C dam

Energy Minister Michelle Mungall says delaying it is off the table

Premier John Horgan’s cabinet intends to make a decision on whether to continue building the most expensive construction project in B.C. history by the end of 2017.

The B.C. Utilities Commission released its independent report on the project Wednesday, ordered by Horgan to fulfil a promise he has repeated many times since becoming NDP leader.

The BCUC report questions whether Site C can make its 2024 completion date, and concludes the cost “may” exceed $10 billion. It describes the option of suspending work and restarting it in 2024 as the “least attractive of the three scenarios” set out by the government.

Energy Minister Michelle Mungall said Wednesday the report is technical and requires further study, but one thing that is clear is that delaying Site C is not an option that would protect B.C. Hydro ratepayers from unnecessary rate increases.

In the legislature Wednesday, Peace River South MLA Mike Bernier called on the government to make a decision within a month, to provide certainty to the people working at Site C. Eight years of study done under the B.C. Liberal government, and court decisions saying consultation with affected people was adequate, mean no further delay is needed, Bernier said.

Green Party leader Andrew Weaver said the report “should be viewed as the final nail in the coffin of Site C,” due to potential cost overruns and the B.C. Liberal government’s rush to secure fixed-term electricity supply to liquefied natural gas projects.

“The one issue of concern” is the transfer of the $4 billion cost of scrapping Site C to be added to the provincial debt, Weaver said.

Horgan’s government instructed BCUC to come up with cost estimates for completing the dam, pausing construction for a more thorough review of alternatives and future electricity demand, or stopping it and restoring the project area.

The report estimates the cost of shutting down Site C and remediating the project area to be $1.8 billion, plus the cost of finding alternative energy sources to meet demand, on top of the $2 billion already spent.

“The suspension and restart scenario adds at least an additional $3.6 billion to final costs and is by far the most expensive of the three scenarios,” the report states.

The BCUC panel also concluded that “increasingly viable alternative energy sources such as wind, geothermal and industrial curtailment could provide similar benefits to ratepayers as the Site C project with an equal or lower unit energy cost.”

Horgan said Tuesday that one more round of consultation with area Indigenous communities will be conducted next by Indigenous Relations Minister Scott Fraser, and then cabinet will consider its options.

B.C. Hydro has already awarded the major contracts for the powerhouse, river diversion and main civil works in the riverbed.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

City of Nanaimo being sued by human resources firm

Integrity Group seeking more than $50,000 over what it claims are unpaid bills

Man receives four-year sentence for stabbing Good Samaritan near Qualicum Beach

Jeffrey Brian MacDonald sentenced to additional 242 days in jail

High-end whisky seized in B.C. bar raids

Raids end in seizures at Victoria, Nanaimo and Vancouver whisky joints

Tilray to become medical marijuana supplier to Shoppers Drug Mart

Deal contingent on Shoppers Drug Mart receiving Health Canada approval

School bus route changes considered in Nanaimo, Ladysmith

First bus route review released by Nanaimo school district

Community marches in support of Nanaimo women and all women

Nanaimo Women March On event was Saturday, Jan. 20

Woman in Nanaimo buys $70 worth of ice cream with allegedly stolen debit card

Purchase said to have occurred on Jan. 11 at 2 a.m. at Nicol General Store

Wind warning back in effect around Vancouver Island

80 km/h winds expected Saturday, Jan. 20, on east coast of Island, 100 km/h on west coast

VIDEO: Thousands join women’s march events across B.C.

Today marks one year since the first Women’s March on Washington

City council gives go-ahead for new affordable seniors’ housing

57-unit, four-storey building to be constructed at 20 Prideaux St. in Nanaimo

UPDATE: BC Transit’s handyDart service strike delayed

LRB application by contractor means new strike notice must be issued by union

Two Canadians, two Americans abducted in Nigeria are freed

Kidnapping for ransom is common in Nigeria, especially on the Kaduna to Abuja highway

Are you ready for some wrestling? WWE’s ‘Raw’ marks 25 years

WWE flagship show is set to mark its 25th anniversary on Monday

B.C. woman who forged husband’s will gets house arrest

Princeton Judge says Odelle Simmons did not benefit from her crime

Most Read