Site C decision coming Monday


"It is fiscally reckless to continue with Site C and my colleagues and I did everything we could to make this clear to the government", Weaver says in a statement.

The B.C. Utilities Commission, the province's independent energy regulator, concluded in its assessment released last month that the dam is over budget and behind schedule.

"Megaproject mismanagement by the old government has left a bad situation", Premier John Horgan said Monday in a news release.

The B.C. NDP cabinet has struggled with the decision, with the project two years in and facing a cost of $4 billion to shut down construction of the third dam on the Peace River and put the site back the way it was.

The B.C. Liberals' 10-year rate plan - including Site C - planned to increase residents' hydro rates twice in the next decade, by 1.1 per cent each time, because of the dam's long-term financing.

Had the government chose to assume BC Hydro's debt, absorbing $4 billion in sunk costs, termination fees and reclamation, it would wipe out 80% of BC Hydro's equity and add $120 million to $150 million in annual interest charges to the province, government officials said in a technical briefing December 11.

Horgan is expected to make an announcement on his government's decision at 11:30 Victoria. But Premier Philippe Couillard recently said the era of construction of large hydroelectric dams is over, and that the cost of renewables such as solar power is a "great revolution to which we in Quebec are going to participate".

"We're putting an end to the years of energy policy that put politics ahead of people - where government forced BC Hydro into costly contracts, hiking rates for homeowners and renters, and delivering dividends to government it simply couldn't afford". Credit rating agencies might consider BC Hydro as a non-commercially viable entity.

A recent BC Utilities Commission report found the project, which was pegged at $8.3 billion in 2014, is over-budget. The government has now revised that to $10.7 billion, with a project reserve of $708 million.

"We began to receive copies of letters and realized hundreds, if not thousands of NDP supporters were angry and anxious about the Site C dam".

"In the long-run, Site C's affordable energy is a huge competitive advantage for business in the province".

However, it questioned the timing of the project, saying that BC Hydro had failed to establish that it was needed to meet B.C.'s power needs.

The decision on the project's future is one of the first major decisions that faced the minority NDP government. "We need a robust made-in-B.C. strategy that goes far above and beyond business as usual".

The previous B.C. Liberal government had exempted it for such a review of its economics, costs and energy predictions.