Terminating Site C will cost $7 billion: BC Hydro

Public hearings on the $8.8 billion Site C dam begin September 23 in Vancouver
More than 2,000 workers continue to work on the dam on the Peace River near Fort. St. John

Terminating the Site C dam project will cost B.C. almost as much as it would to finish it, according to BC Hydro.

In an 866-page report filed with the BC Utilities Commission (BCUC), BC Hydro estimates the cost of terminating Site dam at $7.3 billion. That includes sunk costs, contract termination fees, site remediation and building or otherwise acquiring other sources of power.

Citizens and stakeholders who question those estimates will get their chance later this month to do so in a public format.

The BCUC, which has been tasked with a fast-tracked review of the $8.8 billion hydro-electric dam, has set dates and times for 11 public input sessions to be held throughout the province between September 23 and October 11.

Those sessions are for the general public. A separate series of public hearings will be held exclusively for First Nations. While anyone can attend those meetings, only First Nations will be invited to speak.

The BCUC has now received more than 100 written submissions. On Sept. 20, it will issue a preliminary report, and open the discussion to oral presentations from the public.

The first session takes place in Vancouver Sept. 23, from 1 to 5 p.m. at 1125 Howe Street. A second Vancouver session will take place Oct. 5, from 6 to 10 p.m. at the same location.

Anyone can attend, but those who wish to address the BCUC are asked to register online, after Sept. 6.

Speakers will be asked to stick to the content of the report it will issue Sept. 20. Presenters are asked to read and adhere to speaker guidelines.

The BCUC’s mandate has been limited to recommending whether the project should be completed, halted or mothballed. It has been asked to evaluate the need for the dam, the likelihood it can be built on budget, and the impact on ratepayers.

Written submissions that have already been posted online can be viewed here, including an 866-page report by BC Hydro .

According to that report, the cost of cancelling the project, which is 20% complete, is $7.3 billion.

Work at the site continues, as the new NDP government decided against halting construction while it is under review.

To date, $1.8 billion has been spent on the project, and by December, $2.1 billion will have been spent, BC Hydro estimates. A total of $4 billion in contracts have either been spent or committed. BC Hydro estimates the termination fees for cancelling contracts on work not yet done at $1 billion.

BC Hydro maintained a large contingency fund for the project, most of which is unspent. The Crown corporation insists in its report that the project can be finished on budget.

nbennett@biv.com

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