The British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC) has completed the inquiry, which examines the impact on BC Hydro ratepayers associated with continuing, suspending or terminating the Site C project. Suspending the project is effectively ruled out and the panel identifies risks associated with both other options.
The inquiry had been set up in August to determine the fate of the CA$8.8bn dam project (link opens on TCI's Canadian site).
The Site C Inquiry Panel received 620 written submissions, and heard from 304 speakers during 11 community input sessions throughout the province. In addition, the Panel held three First Nations input sessions and two technical presentation sessions.
The panel’s key findings are:
- The BCUC is not persuaded that the Site C project will remain on schedule for a November 2024 in‐ service date. The Panel also finds that the project is not within the proposed budget of CA$8.335bn.
- Completion costs may be in excess of CA$10bn.
- The panel finds the least attractive of the three scenarios is to suspend the project and restart it in 2024. The suspension and restart scenario adds at least an estimated $3.6 billion to final costs and is by far the most expensive of the three scenarios. In addition, the Panel considers it the most risky scenario because, among other things, environmental permits will expire and that will require new applications and approvals.
- The panel finds the Site C termination and remediation costs to be approximately CA$1.8bn, in addition to the costs of finding alternative energy sources to meet demand.
- Regarding future energy needs, the panel finds BC Hydro’s mid load forecast to be excessively optimistic and considers it more appropriate to use the low load forecast. In addition, the panel is of the view that there are risks that could result in demand being less than the low case.
- The panel believes increasingly viable alternative energy sources such as wind, geothermal and industrial curtailment could provide similar benefits to ratepayers as the Site C project, with an equal or lower unit energy cost.
- Neither completing Site C nor implementing a portfolio of alternative energy sources is without risk, concluded the panel.