The Site C dam is proposed for a stretch of the Peace River near Fort St. John

Electricity need key to Site C decision

Review panel not convinced there is enough demand for the $7.9 billion dam project to begin next year

  • May. 8, 2014 8:00 a.m.

An environmental review of BC Hydro’s proposed third dam on the Peace River concludes it offers a long-term source of inexpensive electricity to meet future needs, but panelists are unconvinced that construction needs to start next year.

The joint federal-provincial panel released its report Thursday on Site C, a $7.9 billion project that has been considered for 30 years. Its report describes significant impacts to fish habitat, wetlands and aboriginal hunting and trapping territories, and recommends the B.C. government consider alternatives for clean energy including large-scale geothermal that BC Hydro is currently not allowed to build.

Energy Minister Bill Bennett said the federal and provincial governments will study the 450-page report and decide by this fall whether to issue the required permits. If they are approved, a final investment decision is expected by the end of 2014, with a decade of construction to begin in January 2015.

Bennett noted that the panel did not factor in extra demand for electricity for liquefied natural gas development in northern B.C., because major producers intend to power their LNG processing plants with natural gas.

Bennett said LNG producers will need substantial electricity for their operations, beyond the main machinery for chilling and compressing gas. A smaller LNG plant proposed for the Woodfibre pulp mill site near Squamish would use all-electric processing, and it alone would add substantially to BC Hydro’s industrial load, he said.

“We know the demand for power is growing,” Bennett said. “Our population is set to increase by 1.1 million people over the next 20 years, our economy is growing, people are using more devices and there are new uses for electricity like shore power [for ships in port] and electric vehicles.”

NDP leader John Horgan termed the government’s construction plan “reckless and irresponsible,” adding billions to BC Hydro’s debt at a time when ratepayers are looking at 28% rate increases in the next five years.

Horgan said the uncertainties about load forecasting and costs should be referred to the B.C. Utilities Commission, but Bennett said that is unlikely to happen.

Aboriginal people in the Peace region say Treaty 8 guarantees them the right to hunt, trap and fish as they did before the treaty was signed in 1899.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Saanich Police respond to petition for new police agency on Lindsay Buziak murder case

Petition asks Public Safety Minister to to help find justice for slain realtor

North Saanich man fears tougher moorage policies could cost him his home

Stewart Jackson has been living on a boat off Lillian Hoffar Park for about four years

Grave site at Ross Bay Cemetery vandalized overnight

Graffiti found on grave of Sir James Douglas

Thief robs Saanich liquor store at gunpoint, takes cash register

Police ask for public’s help with ongoing investigation

RCMP seek man who allegedly robbed Langford liquor store with a gun

Man described as six to six foot four tall, with slim build and light-coloured skin

POLL: Do you support the proposed changes for ICBC?

Tuesday’s provincial budget predicted a shift from shortfall to surplus in wake… Continue reading

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Feb. 18

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Health officials confirm sixth COVID-19 case in B.C.

Woman remains in isolation as Fraser Health officials investigate

Study says flu vaccine protected most people during unusual influenza season

Test-negative method was pioneered by the BC Centre for Disease Control in 2004

Saskatchewan and B.C. reach championship round at Scotties

British Columbia’s Corryn Brown locked up the last berth in Pool B

Resident discovers five discarded hog heads in Vancouver Island ditch

WARNING: Graphic image may be upsetting to some readers

Canadian Premier League announces 2020 home dates for eight-team circuit

Pacific FC hosts FC Edmonton on April 11 in Langford

B.C. lawyer, professor look to piloting a mental-health court

In November, Nova Scotia’s mental-health court program marked 10 years of existence

Most Read