A group representing more than a dozen B.C. construction trade unions says a report from regulators warning the Site C dam won’t be on time or on budget is “fundamentally flawed.”
Earlier this month, the BC Utilities Commission (BCUC) produced its final report on the controversial dam, warning that it will miss its scheduled 2024 completion date and could cost more than $10 billion to complete.
But the Allied Hydro Council of BC (AHC) has now produced its own report arguing the BCUC failed to take into account the $3 billion in sunk costs that can’t be recouped from the project, even if it’s cancelled.
The report was authored by Lorne Silverston, former CEO of the Columbia Power Corporation and a former assistant deputy minister of finance, energy, mines and forests.
Spokesperson Jim Quail said the report also disputes claims that the province would lose more money if the dam is finished than if the government decided to kill the project.
“It’s simply not correct, that’s not a realistic projection by any means, let’s get that off the table. If there’s debate it should be about the political issues where people can have their points of view.”
The report instead argues that the BCUC report was wrong to suggest BC Hydro is overestimating the future need for power.
The BCUC’s final report described BC Hydro’s demand forecast as “excessively optimistic,” and warned risk factors could end up creating power demand below Hydro’s low-end estimates.
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The AHC counters that if power demand were to grow by just one per cent per year in the next two decades, the province would actually need three Site Cs, something it argues is likely given the province’s shift to electric vehicles and its Paris Agreement commitments.
The AHC report also took issue with the BCUC’s assertion that alternative energy sources could provide a legitimate substitute for the dam, calling them unreliable and noting that no major solar or geothermal facilities currently exist in the province.
However, while the report primarily targets the utilities commission, Quail also had harsh words for the way the former BC Liberal government handled Site C, saying it was “incredibly reckless” by not putting the project up for a full BCUC review before construction started.
“Way back when, when it should’ve been looked at properly it was not, and instead there was a cabinet order signed behind closed doors, and the work begins and the contracts are negotiated.”
The provincial government says the Site C decision now comes down to pushing ahead or scrapping the project entirely.
It is currently consulting with First Nations and northern communities, and is expected to make a final decision by the end of the year.