M. of Energy, Mines & Petrol
Project to create 35,000 jobs, lasting benefits
The B.C. government announced today that it will move forward with the Site C Clean Energy Project (Site C). The Site C project will be the third dam on the Peace River in northeast B.C., and will be a source of clean and renewable energy for over 100 years, producing enough electricity to power approximately 410,000 homes per year.
"Hydroelectric power helped develop our province and Site C will build on B.C.'s heritage of clean, renewable and affordable, power," said Premier Gordon Campbell. "Site C will be a publicly owned heritage asset and will ensure that British Columbia has reliable sources of clean electricity, while contributing to our goal of electricity self- sufficiency."
The government's decision to advance Site C is based on the project's benefits to British Columbians. These include:
* Site C will help meet B.C.'s future electricity needs by providing 900 megawatts of capacity and 4,600 gigawatt hours of electricity each year.
* Site C will produce among the lowest greenhouse gas emissions per gigawatt-hour, when compared with other forms of electricity generation. This will help B.C. further displace fossil fuel-generated electricity with clean energy.
* As the third project on one river system, Site C will generate 30 per cent of the electricity produced at the W.A.C. Bennett Dam with only five per cent of the reservoir area. * Site C will contribute to the local and provincial economy by creating an estimated 7,650 direct construction jobs through the construction period, and up to 35,000 direct and indirect jobs through all stages of the project. * As a source of firm energy, Site C will facilitate the development of clean energy projects by providing additional capacity to back up intermittent resources, such as wind, run-of river hydro and solar.
"The Province and BC Hydro are committed to providing lasting economic and social benefits for northern communities, First Nations and all of British Columbia," said Blair Lekstrom, Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources. "Site C will also energize our potential as a clean energy powerhouse, encouraging new investment, industry and jobs."
The decision to pursue Site C comes at a time when BC Hydro forecasts that B.C.'s electricity needs will grow by 20 to 40 per cent over the next 20 years. The Province and BC Hydro are planning now so that British Columbians will continue to enjoy the benefits of clean, reliable and affordable electricity in the future.
"Based on our work, we believe it is in the best long-term interests of our customers to move forward on Site C," said Dan Doyle, chair of BC Hydro. "Site C will provide clean, reliable and low-cost power in British Columbia for generations to come."
Construction of Site C will be subject to required regulatory approvals, and ensuring that the Crown's constitutional duties to First Nations are met.
Site C will now advance to the regulatory review phase, which will include an independent environmental assessment. The regulatory review phase is expected to take about two years, and it is anticipated that Site C will be available for domestic electricity need by 2020.
The regulatory review for Site C will involve consultation processes, including opportunities for input and participation by the public, First Nations, stakeholders, communities and customers.
In addition, as part of the environmental assessment process, the project will consider potential environmental and socio-economic effects, impacts to land and water, and options for regional benefits, such as infrastructure and supporting recreational opportunities. Where impacts cannot be avoided, BC Hydro will identify and evaluate potential options for mitigation.
The Site C Clean Energy Project has been evaluated using best practices in project planning and development. This includes a five-stage process that provides multiple milestones for assessing the project and deciding whether to proceed to the next stage.
The provincial government decision to advance Site C to the third stage of project planning and development, including an environmental review, is based on two years of work by BC Hydro that included comprehensive consultations, as well as environmental and engineering studies.
The BC Hydro report, 'Stage 2 Report: Consultation and Technical Review', along with 35 appended studies and reports, is available at: www.bchydro.com/sitec
For many years, nine other sites have been available for consideration of large scale hydro-electric storage dam projects, including two on the Peace River system. Although these sites have never been part of BC Hydro's plan, they have remained legal options for consideration. The new Clean Energy Act will change this. It will enshrine in law B.C.'s historic Two Rivers Policy by prohibiting future development of large scale hydro-electric storage dam projects on all river systems in British Columbia, such as the Liard River system. It will also preclude further dams on the Peace River system other than Site C.