VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – As we wait for the provincial government to decide the fate of the Site C dam, an expert on BC Hydro is suggesting we don’t need it, but it might be too late to cancel the project.
Richard McCandless, a retired civil servant who has written extensive reports on the Crown corporation, says there should be no rush to complete the nearly $9 billion project by 2024, because demand for electricity is not high.
“Who’s going to buy the Site C power?” he asks.
BC Hydro executives say if Site C isn’t completed, there will be a shortage of electricity by 2031, but McCandless disagrees.
“For the last ten years, they’ve been saying that our power needs are going to go up and they’ve been flat,” he says.
McCandless, a former deputy minister with the BC government, recently predicted it would cost $4 billion to cancel the project, which is already under construction near Fort St. John. McCandless believes because of that, the government is feeling pressure to approve Site C, even though a report from the BC Utilities Commission determined it’s almost $2 billion over budget and can’t be completed on time.
He says there are better alternatives, but the trade off is between the cost and the impact on the environment.
“We could get the same amount of power as Site C’s promised for probably 60 per cent of the cost –maybe even 50 per cent of the cost– if we would use the abundance of natural gas that BC has.”
“If they would have been burning natural gas, they would never have launched Site C. It wouldn’t have been necessary.”
Editor’s note: The headline of this article has been edited to more accurately reflect the nature of this article.