Sunday, April 18, 2010

Decision on massive B.C. hydro project could be near -- The Canadian Press

A map of the proposed location for the Site C dam in northeastern B.C. A map of the proposed location for the Site C dam in northeastern B.C. (Courtesy of BC Hydro)

The province is about to announce a decision on the decades-old proposal to build a massive hydroelectric-generating dam, known as Site C, in northeastern B.C., says Energy Minister Blair Lekstrom.

Lekstrom won't say exactly when the government plans to announce the decision, but suggests it will be soon because the province has promised to deliver a decision in spring 2010.

The Site C megaproject near Fort St. John would cost an estimated $6 billion, but would produce enough electricity to power 460,000 homes.

Heralded by some as B.C.'s energy saviour since the 1970s, the project has been reviled by environmentalists and farmers because of the amount of land it would flood.

"The key issue is that we're going to live up to the commitment that we made. One way or the other we're going to make a determination to either proceed or not proceed," said Lekstrom.

If the government decides to move ahead, the proposed project will undergo environmental assessments and consultations with local First Nations, area residents and governments, he said.

"Ultimately, it will be government's decision to proceed or not proceed to the next stage."

Site C would be the third hydroelectric dam on the Peace River, joining the W.A.C. Bennett and Peace Canyon dams.

Crown-owned BC Hydro says the proposed dam would be located about seven kilometres southwest of Fort St. John on the Peace River.

Site C, providing about 900 megawatts of power, would create an 83-kilometre long reservoir and flood more than 5,340 hectares of land in the Peace River Valley.
Renewable energy vs. vast reservoir

BC Hydro says the dam would create clean, renewable energy while emitting minimal greenhouse gases.

But people, buildings and roadways will have to be moved and wildlife and farmlands will be lost.

Matt Horne, of the Pembina Institute, said he expects environmental groups and some area First Nations to voice strong concerns about any decision to move ahead with Site C.

Environmental groups are concerned that the government appears to be considering huge projects on an individual basis rather than looking at developments and their potential environmental impacts on a more province-wide basis, Horne said.

"It would be concerning to see the province move ahead, or continue moving ahead with the project, without any meaningful decision-making process about the types and scale of projects we're pursuing," he said.

BC Hydro has said the project would undergo a number of reviews and assessments before it could proceed.

"Should the provincial government decide to continue pursuing Site C, the project would be subject to provincial and federal regulatory review including comprehensive environmental assessment and permitting processes," said a report on the corporation's website.

"Effects on the environment include flooding and water flow impacts on fish, wildlife and agricultural land, local air quality impacts and construction impacts," said the Hydro website. Read more!


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I have been a resident of Coldstream since 1976. I have had 15 years of experience on Council, 3 years as Mayor. As a current Councillor I am working to achieve fair water and sewer rates and to ensure that taxpayers get fair treatment. The current direction regarding water supply is unsustainable and I am doing all I can to get the most cost effective water supply possible.