Site C’s future still unclear following release of BCUC investigation

The future of British Columbia’s controversial Site C complex remains unclear, despite the release of a comprehensive report from the B.C. Utilities Commission today.

The 300-page document, prepared by BCUC under direction of an August 2 Order-in-Council from the province’s government, is intended to address the “financial impact on BC Hydro ratepayers associated with continuing, suspending or terminating” the 1,100 MW project.

Chief amongst the report’s findings are that Site C will not likely meet its planned November 2024 in-service date, and that it’s cost to complete — initially budgeted at $8.335 billion (US$6.5 billion) — could balloon to more than 50% over the proposed amount.

Examined in the study were three scenarios: suspending construction of the project until 2024, completing it as-planned, or terminating it outright.

According to the report:

  • Terminating and remediating the project site would cost about CA$1.8 billion;
  • Suspending and restarting construction of the project could add more than CA$3.6 billion, in addition to requiring environmental permitting and other approvals to essentially start from scratch; and
  • Growth geothermal and wind generation, coupled with a decrease in the province’s industry, mean other renewables could provide similar unit energy costs as Site C.  

Given the cost and potential complications the province might face by suspending the project, British Columbia Minister of Energy Michelle Mungall told reporters today the government will now decide whether to press forward with Site C’s construction, or to cancel it.

The report is the last part of a multi-phase study, which previously included an independent review by consulting firm Deloitte LLP and a number of consultations with the public and First Nation groups.

Though Site C has been controversial ever since it was proposed in the 1970s, it has been under particular strutiny since Premier John Horgan and the New Democratic Party took control of the province’s government in July.

For a full archive of HydroWorld.com’s past reporting on Site C, visit here.

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Michael Harris formerly was Editor for HydroWorld.com.

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