Shypitka says Site C Dam green light good for B.C.
But NDP incompetence – with costs now having doubled under its watch – is a major source of concern, the Kootenay East MLA adds
The B.C. government today announced it intends to push forward with the now $16 billion Site C Dam project in the province’s northeast and will abide by a string of recommendations aimed at improving oversight and governance.
“When we made the decision to move forward with Site C in 2017, none of us could have imagined the impact that the pandemic would have on projects here in B.C. and around the world,” said Premier John Horgan. “The project is facing new challenges, and we are committed to managing it in the best interests of British Columbians. Cancelling it would cause people’s electricity rates to skyrocket, and we will not burden people with additional financial stress during these difficult times with nothing to show for it. Site C is already 50% finished, and our government will complete this project, ensuring British Columbians have clean and affordable power for decades to come.”
The provincial government has released the Milburn review, with 17 recommendations. government and BC Hydro have accepted all the recommendations.
Peter Milburn has been retained to provide oversight on implementing the recommendations, which include enhancing the independence, mandate and expertise of the Site C Project Assurance Board and strengthening BC Hydro’s risk reporting and management.
Government has also released the geotechnical review from John France and Kaare Hoeg – two independent, world-leading experts. Their review confirmed the foundation enhancements developed to address geotechnical issues on the project’s right bank will work and will ensure the project meets the highest safety standards. France and Hoeg have been retained to provide oversight to BC Hydro while construction of the foundation enhancements is completed, outlined a Feb. 26 Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation media release.
The revised cost estimate to complete Site C is $16 billion, with a one-year delay to complete the project (now 2025). The one-year delay due to COVID-19 is the primary reason for the increase in the cost estimate, followed by the foundation enhancements, and other cost and schedule pressures.
The costs to cancel the project, including sunk costs and the costs to remediate the site, would be at least $10 billion. This does not include the costs of replacing the lost energy and capacity Site C would have provided, the government media release stated.
“If ratepayers were to pay off this debt over 10 years, then an immediate increase of 26% would be required that would remain in effect for the 10-year period. This is equal to $216 a year, over 10 years, for the average residential customer. Alternatively, the debt associated with termination and remediation would fall on taxpayers and reduce the resources the Province needs for important investments in infrastructure and services to build back from the COVID-19 pandemic,” the release said.
“Site C will not impact rates until it comes into service, with costs being repaid over the lifetime of the project – more than 70 years. This will ensure BC Hydro customers continue to have among the lowest electricity costs in North America. Continuing with Site C at the current cost estimate means cumulative bill increases will be about $36 a year higher for the average residential customer, or three per cent higher by 2030 than under BC Hydro’s prior rates forecast, and still less than inflation over this period,” it added.
While noting today’s provincial government announcement is good news, Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka, who is BC Liberal Critic for Energy, Mines, & Low Carbon Innovation added Premier Horgan and his government have bungled Site C since inheriting it from the BC Liberals.
“The fact that Site C is proceeding is good news for British Columbians, as it will provide the province with a source of clean and reliable power for the next 100 years. The NDP’s incompetence in managing the project – with costs now having doubled under their watch – is a major source of concern,” Shypitka stated.
“When John Horgan took over the project, his energy minister confirmed it was on time and on budget. Since then, we have seen bungling, delays, and excuses that are proving costly to taxpayers.
“Horgan instituted a review by the BCUC and established a new oversight committee for the project and today’s report by Peter Milburn – finally released – shows how inept the NDP’s handling of the project has been. In fact, it suggests that concerns around geotechnical issues were raised in 2018 and it took two years for the government to notice.
“John Horgan wasn’t honest about the project during the snap election and now all British Columbians are being made to pay the price for his government’s incompetence.
“We can’t afford to allow John Horgan’s ineptness to continue. No more hiding reports, no more delaying information. The NDP needs to put a plan and controls in place that ensure the incompetence ends as this is a much-needed project as we move towards a clean, sustainable energy future,” Shypitka concluded.
Lead image from the Millburn Site C Dam review.