Site C dam cost keeps going up and up and up

Originally pegged at between $5 billion and $6.6 billion, the Peace River power project is now expected to be $16 billion

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      Nobody should be surprised by the NDP government's most recent revelation about the Site C dam.

      According to a February 26 announcement, it will now clock in at $16 billion by the time it's completed in 2025.

      It's part of what seems like a never-ending series of cost escalations for the hydroelectric facility in northeastern B.C.

      Back in 2010, then premier, Gordon Campbell, and his energy minister, Blair Lekstrom, advanced the project to the third of its five stages—regulatory review.

      They pegged the price of the project at that time between $5 billion and $6.6 billion.

      The then NDP energy critic, John Horgan, reiterated his party's longstanding opposition to the Site C dam. 

      “We believe that there are better options,” the future B.C. premier said in 2010.

      After Christy Clark became premier, the cost ballooned to $7.9 billion and by 2014, it reached $8.7 billion.

      After Horgan became premier in 2017, the Site C dam was expected to cost $10.7 billion. Now, it's $16 billion, about three times the original cost.

      Horgan had a chance to cancel the dam after becoming premier in 2017. But he felt that it had gone past the point of no return after $2.1 billion had been spent under the B.C. Liberals.

      A B.C. Utilities Commission report stated in 2017 that there would be another $1.8 billion in remediation costs if the project were to be cancelled.

      On February 26, Horgan said that the newest price escalation hasn't dissuaded his government from continuing.

      "Cancelling it would cause people’s electricity rates to skyrocket, and we will not burden people with additional financial stress during these difficult times with nothing to show for it," the premier stated. "Site C is already 50 percent finished, and our government will complete this project, ensuring British Columbians have clean and affordable power for decades to come.”

      That prompted a critical response from B.C. Green Leader Sonia Furstenau.

      She called $16 billion a "staggering amount of money", suggesting that there will be more cost increases in the future.

      "As jurisdictions around the world embrace small scale distributed renewable energy, the decision to funnel all our money into one unstable megadam keeps B.C. locked in the past and risks foregoing enormous opportunities throughout the province," she said.

      “We are continuing to see unprecedented secrecy around this project and it needs to stop," she continued. "I’m appalled that the premier is still attempting to mislead British Columbians about the cost drivers behind Site C, blaming it on COVID-19 rather than the well-known geotechnical risks that still face this dam."