The decision to approve the Site C dam isn’t official yet, but opponents of the project are already slamming the BC NDP government.
Speaking with CKNW’s The Jon McComb Show on Monday, Steve Gray with the Peace Valley Solidarity Initiative said the government appears to have bowed to pressure from BC Hydro, rather than listening to evidence from the BC Utilities Commission (BCUC).
“The NDP ran on a program that said they could generate more electricity without flooding our farms and sensitive ecosystems or encroaching on First Nations land title,” Gray said.
“What their platform was, they go to the utilities commission, and if the commission report proved unfavourable they would cancel Site C. We don’t understand what’s going on.”
LISTEN: Site C protesters upset ahead of dam announcement
During the campaign, the NDP refused to take a firm position on the future of the dam, pledging only to send it to the commission for review.
An update to the BCUC’s final report on the project has acknowledged that if B.C. were to absorb the full $4-billion cost of scrapping the program in one decade, it could lead to an electricity rate hike of more than 10 per cent.
But Gray argued that bump would be worth it — and would be cheaper in the long run.
“If, in fact, we have to increase hydro rates to a moderate degree to take care of the problem, we think that’s a preferable thing than to take on billions of dollars of costs and kick this down to our children to pay for much higher costs in future and much higher rates in future.”
LISTEN: Environmentalists outraged by government Site C decision
Gray dismissed arguments that the dam is needed to meet B.C.’s clean electricity goals, particularly amid the province’s climate change commitments.
He argued that B.C.’s wind-power capacity is up to four times greater than that of the Site C project, and that the BCUC’s figures showed it could be done more cost effectively than the dam.
“The Utilities Commission says at the same or lower cost than continuing with Site C. And that’s what baffles us, why would we destroy valuable farmland at a time of climate change?”
BC Hydro has disputed BCUC figures regarding alternative power sources, arguing that the commission had overstated their benefit by $800 million compared to the dam.
Premier John Horgan is slated to make an official announcement on the $10-billion project at 11:30 a.m., however senior government officials have confirmed to Global News that the project will proceed.