Energy Minister Bill Bennett

Energy Minister Bill Bennett

Site C dam construction to start next summer

Province to take less revenue from BC Hydro to minimize its debt, says $8 billion project is the cheapest available option to meet demand

The B.C. government has given the go-ahead for BC Hydro to start construction on a third dam on the Peace River, with a delay of six months to try to work out settlements with area aboriginal communities and landowners whose properties will be flooded or cut off.

Energy Minister Bill Bennett said Tuesday an update of the construction costs upheld the $7.9 billion estimate for the Site C dam that was developed in 2010, but the estimate has risen.

Delaying the project six months from its original start date adds inflation and interest costs, and calculating the effect of the provincial sales tax replacing the HST bringing the total to $8.34 billion, and the province is establishing a “project reserve” of $440 million to bring the total estimated cost to $8.77 billion.

The project reserve is in case of unforeseen events such as a rise interest rates during the eight-year construction period.

BC Hydro CEO Jessica McDonald said the six-month delay provides time to work out agreements with Treaty 8 First Nations who have declined settlement offers. The federal-provincial environmental review panel gave the go-ahead for the project in May, but noted its unavoidable impacts on aboriginal hunting, fishing and trapping rights that are assured by the 1899 treaty.

A group of Peace valley landowners has already started legal action against the project, having refused offers from BC Hydro to buy their land. Aboriginal groups in Alberta, downstream of the project, have also started court action against it.

NDP leader John Horgan called the decision “a $9 billion gamble” and repeated his call for a review by the B.C. Utilities Commission to see if the additional power is going to be needed by the time the dam is operating in 2025.

The BCUC will determine BC Hydro rates in the years ahead, and how much they will go up to pay for the most expensive public construction project in B.C. history. The government plans to mitigate BC Hydro rate impact by reducing the dividend the government takes from the power company’s operations each year.

Bennett said a review of alternative clean energy sources, including wind, solar and geothermal power, showed they can’t compete on price because they are intermittent sources that would require backup power.

 

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

Just Posted

Dr. Sandra Allison and Dr. Charmaine Enns joined school district senior staff for a virtual town hall meeting to address the latest COVID concerns in schools. Image, screenshot
No secondary cases in Comox Valley schools, say health officers

School district hosts virtual town hall to address recent COVID-19 cases in schools

One of the rescues at CATS - Cat Advocates Teaching & Saving Society’s new location on Knight Road in Comox. Photo by Erin Halushak
Feline rescue organization growing into new space

Cat Advocates Teaching & Saving Society opens new facility on Knight Road

Comox Valley RCMP had access to 20 Street blocked off between Cousins and Choquette avenues as they conducted a raid of a house on the block. Photo by Terry Farrell
Comox Valley RCMP raid Courtenay problem house, several arrests made

Neighbours have reached out to media on several occasions with complaints about the property

A vial of Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a family doctor office, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021 in Paris. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP -Christophe Ena
Tentative COVID-19 vaccine site chosen in the Comox Valley

B.C. is moving into Phase 2 of its COVID-19 mass immunization plan

Cumberland is considering downtown densification proposals, and with that comes questions around parking, among other things. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Water bottling ban, parking key changes for Cumberland zoning

Bylaw on amendments still need adoption following March 2 hearing

Sean LaFleur and Geoff Piper of Courtenay Nissan will be running 4 miles every 4 hours all weekend long in a fundraising campaign for YANA (You Are Not Alone).
VIDEO: Courtenay Nissan hosting YANA fundraiser

Courtenay Nissan is hosting a special YANA fundraiser all weekend long, from… Continue reading

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky, father of the Great One, dies at 82

Canada’s hockey dad had battled Parkinson’s disease and other health issues

Burnaby Mounties responded to 56 complaints and issued 10 tickets to people flouting COVID-19 restrictions in February. (Patrick Davies/100 Mile Free Press)
COVID denier fined $2,300 for hosting gathering in her home: Burnaby RCMP

The woman told Mounties she does not believe the pandemic is real

Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne speaks in the B.C. legislature, March 4, 2021. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals, NDP sing in harmony on local election reforms

Bill regulates paid canvassers, allows people in condo buildings

The intersection of Melrose Street and Third Avenue. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Suspect in custody after two pedestrians struck in Port Alberni hit and run

RCMP asking for video footage, credit witnesses for quick arrest

The Courtenay Fire Department hopes to start a new recruit training program in mid-2021, pending Provincial Health Orders. Scott Stanfield photo
Courtenay Fire Department gets creative

Due to public health orders resulting from COVID, the Courtenay Fire Department… Continue reading

(National Emergency Management Agency)
No tsunami risk to B.C. from powerful New Zealand earthquake: officials

An 8.1 magnitude earthquake shook the north of New Zealand Thursday morning

(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
Pandemic stress, isolation key factors as to why Canadians turned to cannabis, alcohol

Study found that isolation played key role in Canadians’ substance use

Most Read