The provincial government has provided B.C. Hydro’s Site C hydroelectric dam project on the Peace River with the final approval required to begin construction.
The project in British Columbia’s northeast sector is expected to cost $8.335-billion in addition to a $440-million contingency fund to account for possible overruns.
“Affordable, reliable, clean electricity is the backbone of British Columbia’s economy. Site C will support our quality of life for decades to come and will enable continued investment and a growing economy,” said Premier Clark in a statement.
B.C. Hydro says the demand for power is expected to increase by 40 per cent over the next 20 years. “British Columbia has the third-lowest electricity rates in North America and we need to meet our future needs in a way that keeps rates down,” said Bill Bennett, Minister of Energy and Mines. “It’s clear that to keep rates low, we must choose the option of building Site C.”
Over the first 50 years of the dam’s life, ratepayers will be able to save an average of $650 to $900-million per year compared to alternatives. The project is being built for the needs of the next hundred years, providing enough electricity to power about 450,000 homes per year – an eight per cent increase in supply to the existing B.C. Hydro grid.
The project has been about three decades in the making and recently went through several comprehensive environmental assessments. It received necessary environmental certificates from both the federal and provincial governments this past fall.
In October, a final report by the Joint Panel Review concluded that “Site C is in the public interest and that the benefits provided by the project outweigh the risks of significant adverse environmental, social and heritage effects.” In addition, it listed 77 legally-binding conditions that B.C. Hydro must fulfill in order for the project to proceed.
Site C is located seven kilometres southwest of Fort St. John and will consist of a 83-kilometre long reservoir. It will also be the third hydroelectric power plant along the Peace River.
B.C. Hydro is aiming to commence construction in the summer of 2015 for a completion in 2024.
Feature Image: BC Hydro