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 12:00 p.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.

 

Just Posted

Nearly $500,000 available for internships with First Nations government

Funds announced through partnership with Northern Development and Government of Canada

Kitimat registers biggest drop in property assessments

The residential property in the north with the highest value was $2.892 million

Former mayor Ray Brady passes away

“What I can say is that he was passionate about his beliefs and he would fight for them.”

CDC’s housing section looking for new home

CDC executive director says it has until Jan. 31 to move out.

Shames Mountain named one of the world’s Top 10 ski resorts

The UK magazine listed Shames alongside Whistler and hills in Italy, Japan and Austria

Solitary-confinement veto a chance to address mental health: advocate

B.C. Supreme Court made the landmark ruling Wednesday

Winter storm coming to B.C. this weekend

The bets are on as to how much snow the province will actually get in the coming days

B.C. civil rights group files complaint about RCMP arrest of man who later died

Dale Culver, a 35-year-old Indigenous man was arrested in Prince George last July

Lawyer says former B.C. government aide ‘barely guilty’ in ethnic vote scandal

Brian Bonney pleaded guilty to a breach of trust charge

Quite a few tears as homemade quilts distributed to residents of Ashcroft Reserve, Boston Flats affected by last summer’s fire

Quilters in B.C. and Alberta worked through the summer and fall to create more than 100 quilts.

Island Health: No need for alarm in wake of Victoria needle-prick incidents

Three incidents in a week prompts meeting between health authority, city service providers

B.C. coast loggers celebrate history, hope for improvement

Truck Loggers Association awaits B.C. NDP government’s new direction

Global Affairs aware of report of two Canadians kidnapped in Nigeria

The foreigners were heading south from Kafanchan to Abuja when they were ambushed around Kagarko

Whistler role in potential Calgary Olympic bid would be welcome: IOC

Calgary is mulling whether to vie for the 2026 Games, and could look to facilities in B.C.

Most Read