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Site C clean energy project moves forward

April 21, 2010
Artist rendering of the Site C clean energy project

Artist rendering of the Site C clean energy project

Monday’s announcement that the Site C project is moving forward comes as no surprise: The project has been talked about for several decades and there was direct mention of it in the last two Speeches from the Throne.

The 900 megawatt Site C project will be the third and final dam on the Peace River in northeast B.C. and will produce 4,600 gigawatt hours of clean, non-emitting electricity each year – enough electricity to power approximately 410,000 homes per year.

The compact Site C reservoir will benefit from the immense water storage capability of the existing Williston Reservoir upstream, and with just five per cent of the Williston reservoir’s surface area, Site C will be able to generate roughly 30 per cent of the electricity of the Bennett Dam.

The decision to move forward with the Site C project is based on two years of work by BC Hydro which included comprehensive consultations as well as environmental and engineering studies.  The decision is also based on BC Hydro forecasts that show B.C.’s electricity needs will grow by 20 to 40 per cent over the next 20 years.

“Whether it is the development of Site C, run-of-river hydro power, wind, tidal, solar, geothermal, or bioenergy and biomass — British Columbia will take every step necessary to become a clean energy powerhouse, as indicated in the BC Energy Plan.”

The Honourable Steven L. Point, OBC – Speech from the Throne: August 23, 2009

Moving forward with Site C will help prepare B.C. for a changing world and the emerging electrification of the transportation sector – including rail, ports and electric plug-in vehicles – along with other technologies aimed at reducing fossil fuel dependency.

And as with all green energy projects – big or small, public or private – the construction of Site C will be subject to numerous regulatory approvals and environmental reviews including consultation processes that provide opportunities for input and participation by the public, First Nations, stakeholders, communities and BC Hydro customers. 

Site C will also help in the development of B.C.’s abundant renewable energy resources by providing backup for non-storage energy sources like wind, run-of-river and solar.  B.C.’s abundant wind, run-of-river, tidal and other renewable energy resources will in turn allow hydroelectric dams like Site C to store water for later use.

The construction phase of the Site C project is expected to take approximately seven years following a consultation, planning and regulatory review stages which is expected to take two to three years.  The Site C project will create an estimated 7,650 direct construction jobs during the construction period and up to 35,000 direct and indirect jobs through all stages of the project.

The estimated cost for the Site C project is $6.6 billion based on the historic design of the project from the 1980s.  However, the historic design is almost 30 years old and is being updated to reflect current environmental, seismic and safety guidelines.  The project is ultimately expected to cost more than $6.6 billion and could easily cost as much as $8 billion.

The project calls for an earthfill dam approximately 1,100 metres in length and 60 metres high above the river bed.  The reservoir will be approximately 83 kilometres long and will be, on average, two to three times the width of the current river.  

Clean, renewable electricity from Site C is expected to be available by 2020 and the project will be a source of clean renewable energy for B.C. for over 100 years.

A backgrounder and fact sheet about the project are available on the province’s website.


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