The British Columbia government has decided to complete the construction of the controversial 1,100MW Site C dam and hydroelectric generating station in Canada.
Planned to be owned and operated by British Columbia Hydro and Power Authority (BC Hydro), the project has potential to generate 5,100GWh of clean and renewable electricity annually.
British Columbia Premier John Horgan said that C$4bn ($3.1bn) has already been spent or committed to the project and it would be feasible option to proceed with the construction rather than canceling it.
Horgan added: “It’s clear that Site C should never have been started. But to cancel it would add billions to the Province’s debt – putting at risk our ability to deliver housing, child care, schools and hospitals for families across B.C. And that’s a price we’re not willing to pay.”
The project, if scrapped, would result in $3.9bn in debt, including up of $2.1bn already spent and another $1.8bn in remediation costs.
However, the cost to complete the project is now estimated to reach $10.7bn, an increase from initial estimate of C$7.9bn ($7.907bn).
Once operational, the project would generate clean energy required to power around 450,000 homes in British Columbia annually. It is expected to have an operational life of more than 100 years.
BC Hydro said: “We have identified a number of areas where improvements must be made, including adding independent oversight of project performance, ensuring the appropriate resources are in place to manage new and existing contractors, and enhancing openness and transparency through increased project communications.”
In an effort to move ahead with the project, the government plans to launch a Site C turnaround plan, which will include costs and benefits of the project, among others.
In 2015, ACCIONA Infrastructure Canada and its Peace River Hydro Partners (PRHP) announced that they had signed a contract with BC Hydro for the main civil works component of the Site C clean energy project.
Image: Illustration of Site C hydroelectric project. Photo: courtesy of Acciona.