British Columbia’s Liberal government, under investigation for alleged pay-to-play influence peddling and facing a general election in early May, should drop plans for its contentious and unneeded Site C hydroelectric dam, a former premier says in a video interview.
British Columbia’s Liberal government, under investigation for allegations of pay-to-play influence peddling and facing a general election in early May, should drop plans for its contentious and unneeded Site C hydroelectric dam on the Peace River in the province’s northeast, a former premier says in a video interview.
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B.C. Hydro, a crown corporation, has begun land-clearing for the project, on the Peace River in the province’s northeast. But “the cost of dams worldwide over the last 70 years has averaged 90% over [initial estimates],” former premier Mike Harcourt told DeSmog.ca in an interview. “So you can assume Site C is going to cost, probably, $15 to $17 billion. I think economically it’s just not going to cut it.”
Harcourt points to the absence of any apparent demand in the province for the extra power the dam will produce. “Demand for electricity in B.C. has been flat over the last 11 years,” Harcourt said. “You don’t need it. Economically, you’re going to be bankrupting BC Hydro and seriously harming the credit of British Columbia.”
Altogether, the project “is going to be a disaster, economically, environmentally, culturally for First Nations,” the former premier charged.
Harcourt has also spoken out forcefully against Kinder Morgan’s proposed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, warning that the federal government faces “insurrection” if it forces the line—approved by the National Energy Board in a sharply-criticized decision—on residents of the B.C. Lower Mainland. (B.C. Premier Christy Clark also approved the line in January.)
As for Site C, the planned dam “is 18 months into construction on what is projected to be an eight-year timeline,” DeSmog reports. “So far, a worker’s camp has been built and a small section of river valley has been cleared. Ultimately, more than 100 kilometres of river valley, including valuable farmland, will be cleared to make way for the dam’s reservoir.”
“It’s not too late” for the province to give up on the flawed hydro project, Harcourt asserted. “It’s never beyond the point of no return.”