BCUC releases preliminary report on the Site C Dam project

Site C south bank cofferdam, excavation, and sediment storage area. Photo by BC Hydro

VICTORIA, B.C. – The B.C. Utilities Commission has released their preliminary report into the Site C Dam project.

While the report didn’t make any recommendations, it did highlight a number of areas where more information is needed before the final report is released on November 1.

The initial report has confirmed the project is on time.  “After having reviewed BC Hydro’s expenditures and other documentation, the Panel finds that the Site C Project is, as of June 30, 2017, on time for an in-service date of November 2024.”

The report goes onto say “BC Hydro is managing the project to a more aggressive schedule, whereby it would put the dam in service in 2023, one year earlier than the 2024 date in the FID.”  The biggest concern with the schedule remains river diversion that needs to be completed in 2019.  Hydro still plans to start diverting the Peace River by September 1, 2019.

But the BCUC report said it is not in a position to express a view on the probability that the project will remain on schedule.

Proposed Budget

The Commission says they have insufficient evidence to prove the Site C project will finish on budget.  

“The Panel is concerned that the amount spent on the project as of June 30, 2017, $1.8 billion, might not accurately represent the spending that should have happened based on the project activities to date. BC Hydro has explained the differences between the planned and actual spending to date against the schedule to complete the dam by November 2024. However, since BC Hydro is managing its activities and incurring expenditures according to a schedule delivering in November 2023, the Panel would find this analysis more useful. “

If the river diversion isn’t started by September 2019, the BCUC report suggests the project would not remain within the budget of $8.335 billion.  

Suspending/Terminating the Project

The Commission says the numbers provided by B.C. Hydro and the report from Deloitte on suspending the Site C project are reasonable.  “However, the Panel finds there to be significant variance between the two with respect to costs related to restarting the project after suspension.”

When it comes to terminating the project, the Commission is once again comfortable with the numbers provided by B.C. Hydro and Deloitte.  The report goes on to say “However, termination of the project and remediation of the site would trigger incremental costs to replace the energy that would have been provided by Site C with alternative sources of energy.”

As of December 31, 2017, $2.1 billion will have been spent on the project and it will take another $1.1 billion to remediate the construction site.

In total the Commission shared 37 preliminary findings in their report and has posed over 70 follow-up questions to B.C. Hydro.  Hydro has until October 4 to respond.

The Commission will now start public hearings September 23 in Vancouver.  Hearings will be held in the B.C. Peace on September 30 in Hudson’s Hope and October 1 and 2 in Fort St. John.  To participate in the hearings head to www.sitecinquiry.com.  The public is also invited to comment on the preliminary report in writing. Written submissions on the preliminary report may be made on or before October 11, 2017 at www.sitecinquiry.com/comment

The full report from the BCUC will be issued on November 1.  It will then be up to the Provincial Government and specifically the NDP Cabinet to decide if the project will continue to move forward.  

You can read a full copy of the report below.

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