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BC Hydro says killing the Site C dam will cost almost as much as finishing it

NDP government sends Site C for review
Fri, Jun 2: The largest mega-project in B.C., the Site C dam, has been sent by the NDP government to the B.C. Utilities Commission for review. Neetu Garcha reports.

A new estimate from BC Hydro argues scrapping the Site C dam project will cost nearly as much as finishing it.

In an 866-page submission to the BC Utilities Commission (BCUC), the Crown corporation argues that stopping Site C will cost ratepayers $7.3-billion in total.

READ MORE: Does B.C. really need the Site C dam?

The company’s estimated cost to finish the mega-dam is $8.3-billion.

$2.1-billion of the estimated cost of killing the project is money that will already have been spent by December.

The cost of winding down the project and doing environmental remediation is estimated at a further $1.1-billion.

The remaining $4-billion in costs is projected to come from the higher cost of power generation over the next seven decades, according to the submission.

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“There would be additional rate impacts associated with Higher Cost Alternative Supply over many decades (analysis was conducted over a 70-year period to reflect the economic planning life of Site C).”

The submission argued that there would be further social costs, including the loss of benefits to aboriginal groups and nearby communities, job losses, impacts to contractors, and a weakened provincial GDP.

The submission also assessed the cost of pressing pause on the project and resuming it in 2024, which it estimated at an additional $1.2-billion, warning the dam would cost more and take longer to complete.

LISTEN: The debate over the Site C dam

The submission, filed on Wednesday, was one of more than 100 received by the utilities commission.

The BCUC says it has now concluded its first phase of data collection, and will produce a preliminary report by September 20.

It has also published a schedule for public feedback sessions which kick off in Vancouver on September 23.

READ MORE: BC NDP refers $8.8B Site C dam project to BC Utilities Commission

The new NDP government pledged to send the Site C project to the BCUC for review during the election campaign, and followed through on the referral at the beginning of August.

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The commission has been tasked with determining the project’s economic viability, and has been given six weeks to produce interim results, with a final report due in three months.

The dam is two years into construction and employs more than 2,200 people in northeastern B.C.

It would be the third dam on the Peace River, flooding an 83-kilometre stretch of valley, and has faced fierce opposition from local First Nations, landowners and farmers.