Preliminary report due from utilities commission on Site C megaproject

Preliminary report due from utilities commission on Site C megaproject”

While B.C.'s Site C dam is now on budget and on time, it would be cheaper for the province to cancel the $8.8-billion hydroelectric project altogether rather than delay it, a new report commissioned by the BC Utilities Commission (BCUC) says.

A report submitted for the commission's review by the auditing firm Deloitte LLP concluded that putting the project on hold until 2025 would cost about $1.4 billion, while cancelling it outright would cost $1.2 billion.

The report said B.C. Hydro has been asked for more information, which the Commission said it needs to decide whether the project was on budget as of June 30.

"There has been a lot of analysis that has been done and other reports that say it could costs billions more to cancel", said PCA's regional director for B.C., Rieghardt van Enter.

Peace River Hydro Partners (PRPH) has run into geotechnical issues and one of its partners, Petrowest Corp., was cut from the partnership after being forced into receivership.

Spokeswoman Katharine Carlsen says the report will be delivered to government and posted on the commission's website. BC Hydro has explained the differences between the planned and actual spending to date against the schedule to complete the dam by November 2024. Much of this hinges on the project team being able to start the crucial river diversion process on time.

Site C, first proposed in the early 1980s, has proved controversial since the B.C. Liberal government of Gordon Campbell resurrected the project shortly after the year 2000 and has faced fierce opposition from First Nations that have declared it an infringement on their rights and title.

When it comes to terminating the project, the Commission is once again comfortable with the numbers provided by B.C. Hydro and Deloitte. The report goes on to say "However, termination of the project and remediation of the site would trigger incremental costs to replace the energy that would have been provided by Site C with alternative sources of energy".

However, it said there is broad agreement that abandoning the project would cost about $1.1 billion in addition to the $2.1 billion spent so far.

In total the Commission shared 37 preliminary findings in their report and has posed over 70 follow-up questions to B.C. Hydro. Hydro has until October 4 to respond.

The Commission will next start a public consultation meetings, starting Saturday in Vancouver, and will include sessions in Prince George, Hudson's Hope and Fort St. John ending in Victoria Oc. 11. The public is also invited to comment on the preliminary report in writing.

The Progressive Contractors Association of Canada (PCA), which represents roughly 1,000 workers on the site, was unfazed by the report.

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