British Columbia's electricity needs are expected to increase up to 40 percent over the next 20 years as our population grows by more than one million residents.
We need to conserve more energy while also ensuring that we have secure, clean power sources to meet the demand. Reliable infrastructure must be in place to deliver electricity to our homes and businesses. This is why B.C. Hydro is proposing the Site C clean energy project, a third dam on the Peace River in northeast B.C.
Building for the future, Site C will provide enough energy to power more than 450,000 homes a year for more than 100 years.
Site C has been in the planning stages for about 30 years. Not surprisingly, the design needed to be upgraded to meet current seismic, safety, and environmental guidelines. Through design changes, we have been able to add 22 percent more generating capacity as well as improve foundation stability, seismic protection, and spillway safety. The revised estimated capital cost is $7.9 billion.
Site C is a cost-effective resource and will produce electricity at between $87 and $95 per megawatt hour compared to other resources at $129 per megawatt hour, helping to keep B.C. Hydro rates among the lowest in North America.
Economic benefits will flow to the region and up to 35,000 direct and indirect jobs will be created.
B.C. Hydro has initiated the required independent environmental assessment process, which will provide opportunities for public input. The views of all British Columbians will be sought, including First Nations, property owners, communities, and stakeholders. As part of this process, B.C. Hydro will identify opportunities to provide lasting benefits for the region and will evaluate options to mitigate any adverse effects of constructing Site C.
I believe the Site C clean energy project will be a legacy for all British Columbians and will help keep electricity rates affordable for generations to come. I am proud to support it.
Rich Coleman is the B.C. minister of energy and mines.