BC Hydro responds to Amnesty International Site C Challenge

FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – BC Hydro has now issued a detailed response to the global campaign launched earlier this week by Amnesty International calling on the federal and BC governments to withdraw all permits and approvals for the Site C dam project.

In its statement Hydro claims to have a world class system that’s 98% clean, meeting two-thirds of new electricity demand through conservation, and it also claims to have the third lowest residential rates in North America.

It says “We’re building Site C to meet the long-term energy and capacity needs of British Columbians,” adding, “The demand for electricity is expected to increase by almost 40 per cent over the next 20 years, as our population grows by over one million people and the economy expands.”

The statement contends once complete, Site C will provide clean, reliable and cost-effective electricity for more than 100 years, and without a third Peace River dam, BC is forecast to have an eight per cent capacity deficit and a two percent energy deficit within ten years – equivalent to the power needs of 100,000 homes.

In response to the Amnesty complaints and concerns about First Nations consultation, the Hydro statement reiterates, it has been consulting and engaging with Aboriginal groups about Site C since 2007.

It also says again that positive discussions with Aboriginal groups affected by the project are continuing, and that it has reached agreements, or terms for agreements, with a number of Aboriginal groups.

In fact it argues, of the thirteen aboriginal groups with which BC Hydro continues to be engaged, only two First Nations remain opposed to the project in court, an obvious reference to the trio of unresolved cases involving challenges from the West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations.

It also notes while Amnesty highlighted court proceedings in its report, it did not mention that, to date, four judicial reviews of the environmental approvals of Site C have been dismissed in Federal and BC Supreme Court.

This formal Hydro response follows a statement from its President and CEO, Jessica McDonald, claiming Amnesty has missed the mark in its report, and construction work on the project will not be halted.