Another Mega-Dam For BC?

Site C – Does BC need another mega-dam?

By Calyn Shaw  

The construction of a third dam on the Peace River is a complex economic, environmental and social issue. The proposed dam at Site C, downstream from the existing WAC Bennett and Peace Canyon dams, could provide substantial long-term economic benefits to the province, just as the previous two dams have and continue to do. However, many British Columbians, led by environmentalist and First Nations communities are asking, at what price? Many also dispute that Site C is as sound an economic and clean energy decision, as the government contends.

According to the government, Site C will act as a large battery down stream from the other two dams, adding useful and valuable clean energy capacity to the provinces stock. The Site C dam will provide approximately 900 megawatts (MW) of capacity and produce about 4,600 gigawatt hours (Gwh) of electricity each year – enough to power approximately 410,000 homes in BC.

 BC Hydro forecasts that due to increasing demand for electric plug-in vehicles and other technologies aimed at reducing fossil fuel consumption, BC’s electricity needs will grow by 20-40% over the next 20 years. Site C will ensure that BC can meet these growing demands and achieve the goal of BC’s Energy Plan of becoming 100% electricity self-sufficient by 2016. The increased capacity will also enable BC to continue as a major exporter of clean energy to major markets such as California.

In addition to increased capacity, the Site C dam will provide dependable electricity 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, have minimal greenhouse gas emissions once operational, and have a long operating life of more than 100 years with low operating costs once built. Finally, the Province and BC Hydro argue that Site C will be of huge economic benefit to northern BC. According to their estimations, Site C will create 35,000 direct and indirect jobs during the life of the project

For environmentalists the argument against Site C development is that is it not needed and will cause undo social and environmental damage with negligible economic upside and a huge price tag ($6 billion). Environmentalists and First Nations communities point out that the dam the will flood 83 kms of the Peace River Valley destroying some of western Canada’s best agricultural land, release carbon now stored in trees, disrupt a wildlife migration corridor and destroy heritage sites.

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One response to “Another Mega-Dam For BC?

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