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 6:00 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

Dave Fast looks to future for Cowichan Bay in run for Area D seat

They want safer walkways, a community space for events and better parking in the Bay

New owners of Crofton mill see bright future for industry

No layoffs or significant changes planned

East side Malahat community say new turnaround increases risk of collision

New turnaround’s poor sight lines and high speed of oncoming traffic leave drivers feeling unsafe

Live music scene at Osborne Bay Pub a paradise for musicians, audience

Berry takes it the next level with an impressive schedule featuring many different genres

Osborne Bay Pub executive chef appeals to music patrons’ tastes

Being part of a creative enterprise suits Lavoie

Lexi Bainas column: Mystery, history, music, painting, and pottery: we’ve got a basketful for you this week

From Deathtrap to JW-Jones and Sue Coleman, there are many A&E surprises out there

BCTF wins grievance over teacher shortage in public schools

Arbitrator found Chilliwack school district did not hire enough on-call teachers or librarians

Workers at BC Interior mill strike as negotiations resume in Kelowna

Picket lines went up at 4 a.m Tuesday, Oct. 16 at Tolko Lakeview Division in Williams Lake

Fall-ing for unseasonably warm weather on Vancouver Island

Environment Canada forecast calls for sunshine through weekend

Toronto Police ID B.C. man as naked shark tank jumper

David Weaver, of Nelson, is wanted on mischief and assault charges

In Florida, families seeking the missing amid storm damage

Five days after the hurricane slammed into the Florida Panhandle, people are struggling to locate friends and loved ones.

Prince Harry and Meghan start Aussie tour with baby gifts

Prince Harry and his wife Meghan are on a 16-day tour of Australia and the South Pacific.

EU’s Barnier hopes Brexit deal possible in ‘coming weeks’

Britain is set to leave the European Union in March, but a Brexit agreement must be sealed in coming weeks to leave enough time for relevant parliaments to ratify it.

Earth samples show dust from B.C. pipeline blast not a health threat: Enbridge

Enbridge says earth sampling shows mineral and metal composition is well below provincial and federal standards for urban and residential areas.

Most Read