Site C is not necessary and if completed would raise British Columbians’ Hydro bills: submission

CCPA-BC submission reconsiders the economics of Site C dam
August 30, 2017

(Vancouver) The Site C dam is not necessary, and moving forward to completion is likely to have adverse impacts on BC Hydro and ratepayers of all classes. That is the conclusion of a submission to the BC Utilities Commission’s (BCUC) consultations on the proposed Site C Dam, authored by Senior Economist Marc Lee from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives – BC Office (CCPA-BC).

Lee submitted comments to the BCUC today in response to the economic questions posed by the BC government. The submission finds that economic case for Site C rests on projections of growing industrial demand for electricity—in particular from natural gas extraction and processing, including liquefied natural gas (LNG), which is not likely to materialize.

“BC Hydro has consistently overestimated future electricity demand,” says Lee. “And they substantially ramped up their projections while decisions about the Site C dam were being made.”

The submission updates baseline projections of electricity demand show that in the absence of Site C, BC Hydro will have an electricity surplus until at least the early 2030s. This surplus could be extended much further in time if more aggressive conservation measures are taken and if fossil fuel sectors (and their electricity demand) are steadily wound down in a manner consistent with climate action.

If completed Site C power would be sold at a loss, and would lead to higher debt for BC Hydro and higher rates for all BC Hydro customers. One important concern is that this will increase energy poverty among BC’s low-income households.

Lee states: “Rather than move ahead with Site C, a more fulsome process of evaluation of future supply and demand—which must include conservation, alternative supply options and BC Hydro’s role in facilitating greenhouse gas emission reductions—should be undertaken through the 2018 Integrated Resource Plan exercise.”

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The full submission, Revisiting the Economic Case for Site C: Submission to the BC Utilities Commission Inquiry Respecting Site C can be found at: https://www.policyalternatives.ca/publications/reports/revisiting-economic-case-site-c

For more information or to set up interviews, please contact Jean Kavanagh at jean@policyalternatives.ca or 604-802-5729.

Background: More on Site C and related issues from CCPA-BC researchers

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