Rich Coleman: Why I am proud to support the $7.9-billion Site C dam

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.




May 30, 2011 at 11:37am

If you have so much faith in this project, Mr. Coleman, then restore full powers to the independent BCUC to study and assess it.

Also, after the catastrophic rubber stamping of the Taseko-Fish Lake mining project by the BC Environmental Assessment board, its safe to say we need completely renewed environmental assessment laws and procedures. If the Harper governments environment minister can see why it should have been voted down, but our provincial ministers and Premier can not, you know there is a problem.

Restore public and third party investigations into these projects and the public will have more faith in these proposals.


May 30, 2011 at 12:24pm

Like all Canwest/Gordo energy ministers Coleman knows absolutely nothing about energy.

Site C at the latest guesstimate is $ 16B/Gw average, and destroys 10K acre of prime farmland. A similar sized Candu nuke would cost $2B/Gw and would fit on a few acres of industrial land at Burrard thermal.

Hydro projects create enormous methane emissions from rotting vegetation making them worse GHG producers than burning coal.

Currently the cost of electricity on the Columbia grid is $20 a megawatt hour (2 cents a kwh) daytime and free on weekends and at night - 20% Site C's cost. It will remain that way for years to come because Wa State's Bonneville power is required by legislation to produce gigawatts of worthless wind energy that it can't sell.

AECL has completed 8 new Candu reactor installations over the last twenty years all on time in 4 years and on budget at $2B/Gw.- the cheapest reactor available anywhere outside China. The last one was completed in 2007 in Europe. Best record in the world for any reactor manufacturer.

Since the Site C power is not needed until well into the future, it is quite possible that Teledyne/Brown's and China's new startup funding of development of the Gen IV factory produced Molten Salt reactor which eliminates all issues in the current Gen III product at a tiny fraction of Site C cost, will make this unit available in time to provide for our future power needs. Teledyne Brown proposes a commercial demo unit for 2015 service based on the successful 10 year run of a test unit at Oak Ridge in the 70's.

For those proponents who prefer we spend 8 times as much providing site C power as Alberta, Idaho, and Wash state will be spending building nukes because they think the Japan's Fukusimi incident shows the danger of building nukes in BC's earthquake zone, they need to think again.

Oddly the Fukushima accident caused by Japan's endemic corruption deferring obvious, demanded and costly improvements to the site's tsunami protection, showed that Japan's many ancient 50's design nuke sites survived a massive earthquake without incident. Not a person killed.

More modern nukes at Fukushima Daini, with the same inadequate tsunami protection hit by an even bigger wave, survived the strike without incident.. Modern nukes would have found the whole thing a piece of cake.

Contrast that with the hundreds of thousands killed in various dam burst accidents in recent times, or the hundreds killed in dam,gas and refinery accidents during the Fukushima incident and one see's where lies the real dangers in the power industry.

The Site C's hydro option has the world record for kills in a single incident over 200K dead in a single China dam burst. The Cleveland dam in North Vancouver busting up in a earthquake would approach that record.

And for Fukushima type devastation just look at the hundreds killed and 10's of thousands of acres of land destroyed forever with toxic chemical pollution from the destruction of its refinery with all its attendant future cancers, and project that into what will happen when an earthquake destroys the Burnaby Mountain refineries. How about a terrorist suicide squad whacking one of those oil laden tankers as it passes under the 2nd narrows bridge.

And that LNG terminal proposed for Rupert, one lone terrist suicider or an earthquake and the entire city would be gone in one giant nuclear bomb size blast.

Nukes are like a walk in the the park compared to this stuff.

devils advocate

May 30, 2011 at 12:28pm

start building, excellent project long overdue


May 30, 2011 at 2:18pm

Like everything else we pay politicians to do something sensible but they never do & now Crusty is criying Abolish the senate. (until she's appointed that is.) BC best place on earth as long as you like Gordo & tailing ponds, pipelines n tanker ports


May 30, 2011 at 2:47pm

To call this project "green" is inaccurate. This statement is made because no hydrocarbon fuel is burn to produce carbon dioxide. However the reservoir produced puts 1 000's of acres of forests and farmland under water. We lose the ability to have a great deal of carbon dioxide absorbed from the atmosphere, the way it is being absorbed now. So it becomes a net emitter of carbon dioxide. And the rotting wood will emit methane, another GHG. Therefore it is not green. As well we will lose valuable farm land and many farmers will lose their livelihood.
Then there is the question of need. We must have a full and open inquiry to determine if it is needed. It must not be done by some backroom boys who are appointed and toads the the BC Liberals.


May 30, 2011 at 4:11pm

Ready for Direct Democracy Now?
We, the citizens, need to have a referendum about all major political decisions.
Consider participating on >> Provincial Polls >> Energy >> Site C Dam.


May 30, 2011 at 4:20pm

Build it period. I am in favor of of building the site C Dam. People research this project your self please. Relying on other provinces/countries power is a bad setup for BCers. People on this forum seem to think bike lanes will solve all our gridlock and tax revenue problems, give me a break.

Steve Y

May 30, 2011 at 9:46pm

@seth, do you have some sort of direct stake in nuclear energy or something? Give it up. There will never, ever ever ever be nuclear energy in this province. Ever. FN's would blow a gasket. And your 2 BN dollar estimate? Increase it by about 20X and you'd have a more realistic number for getting something like that built in BC.


May 31, 2011 at 8:31am

Factor the costs of decommissioning the dam and restoring the river 100 years in the future when the project's effective life is over into the cost of producing electricity over those years and there may well be less expensive and more environmentally responsible alternatives to Site C.

Fan'o Truth

May 31, 2011 at 9:39am

The Williston Lake reservoir is still not suitable for receational boating after nearly a half century. Will a reservoir behind Site C be similarly blighted?

Besides an environmental assessment, what kind of economic value assessment of lost resources in agriculture, wildlife and recreation is going to be undertaken as part of the decision making process? And how will that assessment be compare to alternative projects for generation?