No matter which way the decision goes, the Site C project is going to cost BC ratepayers.
The future of BC Hydro’s Peace River project is now in the hands of the provincial NDP government after the BC Utilities Commission this morning released a report on the impact on ratepayers associated with continuing, suspending or terminating the project.
The short answers, according to the report, for each of those scenarios:
- Continuing: The BCUC is not persuaded that the Site C project will remain on schedule for a November 2024 in‐service date. The Panel also finds that the project is not within the proposed budget of $8.335 billion. Currently, completion costs may be in excess of $10 billion;
- Suspending: However, the panel added, suspending and restarting the project in 2024 is “the least attractive of the three scenarios,” adding an additional $3.6 billion to final costs;
- Terminating: The Panel determined termination and remediation costs — that is ending the project and returning the land to its pre-existing state — would run to approximately $1.8 billion — in addition to the costs of finding alternative energy sources to meet demand.
The Panel added, though, it believes 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.
The report follows an inquiry that included 620 written submissions, and 304 speakers during 11 Community Input Sessions throughout the province.
In addition, the Panel held three First Nations Input Sessions and two Technical Presentation Sessions.
The BCUC initiated the inquiry into BC Hydro’s Site C project, as directed by the provincial government, in August.
“This was a challenging project with a very tight timeframe,” said David Morton, Chair and CEO of the BCUC.
“With the significant contributions of those who participated in this Inquiry, the Panel and Commission staff worked very hard to produce a report that will assist the government in its decision making.”
Michelle Mungall, the provincial Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, was quick to comment on the final report.
“Now it is our turn, as government, to determine whether Site C is in the best interests of British Columbians, after considering the BCUC’s findings and other issues outside the scope of this review,” said Ms Mungall. “We inherited a project that was advanced by the previous government without proper regulatory oversight, is now more than two years into construction, employs more than 2,000 people, and on which about $2 billion has already been spent.
“We are going to take the time we need to make a decision on Site C that works for B.C. families, businesses and the sustainability of our environment and economy.
The report and executive summary are available on the BCUC Site C Inquiry website: www.sitecinquiry.com.
The Site C project was proposed as a third dam and generating station on the Peace River in northeast B.C. The project was expected to provide 1,100 megawatts of capacity and about 5,100 gigawatt hours of energy each year to the province’s integrated electricity system.