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Site C quarterly public update shows project costs to date already more than expected as Hydro pushes work ahead unchecked

The irony of BC Hydro providing updates on Site C to the BC Utilities Commission after a steadfast refusal by government to allow it to review the project, is clear to all who have followed here in recent months. A classic example of how the current government has effectively hog-tied the Hydro regulator,leaving Hydro ratepayers hanging.

I’ve waited a week since this story broke on DeSmog,to see if it would get picked up anywhere else and to date I’ve seen nothing – if I’ve missed something though,please let me know or post it below.

“In only its earliest phases of construction, the Site C dam project has already spent more money than projected and missed key benchmarks, threatening to undermine Premier Christy Clark’s commitment to taxpayers to keep the project on budget and on time.

BC Hydro documents filed June 10 with the province’s independent public utility watchdog, the B.C. Utilities Commission (BCUC), show that that Site C expenditures totalled $314 million more at the end of March than was originally budgeted for that date.

The same documents, reviewed by DeSmog, also Tweet: Big trouble for #SiteC if interest rates & taxes increase, & Canadian $$ continues to depreciate over 8 yrs A#bcpoliflag the potential for cost overruns if interest rates climb, taxes increase or the Canadian dollar continues to depreciate over the projected eight remaining years the dam is under construction.

More than $1.4 billion of Site C’s $8.8 billion price tag consists of interest payments, and twenty percent of its capital costs are based on foreign currency.

The project is monitoring and evaluating some specific cost pressures and is conducting detailed budget reviews to identify opportunities for savings,” BC Hydro said in its quarterly progress report to the utilities commission, noting that Site C’s overall cost forecast remains “on track.”

Despite Hydro’s assertion that the project’s total price tag will not increase, the Crown corporation’s latest report is an early indication that the Site C dam may be headed the way of major hydroelectric projects worldwide, which have posted average cost overruns of 56 percent.”

Former BC Hydro CEO Marc Eliesen said the higher than projected expenditures by March are not at all surprising, especially given that Site C is proceeding “without due diligence.” In 2010, the provincial government changed the law to exempt the BCUC from decision-making authority to determine if the project was in the best interests of British Columbians.

We can expect nothing but escalating increases in the future if Site C is to go ahead,” Eliesen said in an interview with DeSmog. “This is scheduled to become a big white elephant.”

Eliesen predicts that Site C’s final price tag will be $11 to $12 billion. He points to last week’s announcement that the cost of Labrador’s Muskrat Falls hydroelectric dam has ballooned to $11.4 billion, from $7.4 billion in 2012, as an indication of what will happen with Site C.”

You can of  course, read my all about that mess and the dire warning that project should have been for the BC government and taxpayers, here:

One thing I found very interesting is the section on Material Risks ( page 27 of the above report) which talks about the 4  challenges against the project that still remain unresolved.

One of those challenges goes before a federal court September 14th in Montreal,and critics and observers alike are contemplating the impact the recent Enbridge court ruling could play here.

Blueberry First Nation recently issued a report showing just how great the cumulative impact of all disturbances on their traditional territory has been and this may be consideration in those legal proceedings.

Either way, the lack of financial due diligence and lack of consideration of the cumulative impact on local First Nations, could still halt this project in its tracks – and BC Hydro knows it.

Meanwhile, the good people of the Peace are coming together this weekend for the 11th Annual Paddle for the Peace, an amazing event uniting First Nations, farmers, ranchers, families and activists alike. Speakers include:

  • Chief Roland Willson, WMFN
  • PVEA – Ken Forest
  • Chief Lynette Tsakoza (unconfirmed)
  • PVLA – unconfirmed
  • Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of Union of BC Indian Chiefs and Joan Phillip
  • Lana Popham, BC NDP
  • Y2Y – Candace Batycki
  • Sierra Club BC – Ana Simeon
  • Wilderness Committee – Joe Foy
  • Amnesty International – Craig Benjamin
  • Professors – Karen Bakker & Rita Wong
  • George Heyman, BC NDP
  • George Desjarlais – prayer song
  • Green Party leader Elizabeth May

All those fighting to save the Peace are welcome.


  1. Interesting that BC Hydro considers permitting by the provincial and federal government with the same level of concern as aboriginal relations and ongoing legal proceedings challenging the project. Permitting is a slam-dunk; which gives us some idea of how seriously Hydro takes the aboriginal issues.

    Anyone wondering if the greater than expected costs to date trouble Christy Clark at all should consider the title of the Tyabji biography “Behind The Smile”. She’s grinning because the greater the cost she can ring up before the 2017 election the closer the project is to her goal of pushing it past the point of no return.

    I don’t recommend reading about her smile beyond the title, however.


  2. Laila,BC Hydro was quick on the draw to answer to the article by Desmog,giving their twisted lame ass excuses.
    I listened to CKNW this morning,would like to have heard more from you ,unfortunate Marty Brown seemed to get most of the limited air time.I thought he was opposed to Site C ,but he sure was defending it this morning.Will for sure keep tuning in,thanks for doing that


    • I don’t like to interrupt and frankly there was little opportunity to get a word in without interrupting 😉 A revealing segment for listeners I think, in terms of what people have come to expect from his Georgia Straight columns.

      Hydro will spin just like they always have. Of course they have spent more early on because as I said above, they are pushing ahead as fast as they can to get to the point of no return, as fast as they can….just like Muskrat Falls. Which is why so many infractions have occurred so far. To be honest they need someone on that project 24/7 right now and there is one officer up there to check on them for inspections.

      I sat in court and listened to their lawyers tell the judge this spring that acid generating rock dumped in the river will make good fish habitat.The lawyer did not seem to understand why the courtroom found that funny and continued on. Bottom line, deflect, deny and discredit is the only thing they have when they facts do not work in their favour. It is why I and others have been so diligent in following this story


  3. George, take it easy.
    We can’t criticize a two way discussion.
    Isn’t one sided, closed mindedness what we are all forever condemning about BC politics.

    Besides, if we want to keep score, I believe Laila got the most air last week.
    I’m grateful the show exists.


    • Thanks Hawgwash! It’s give and take and as we find our feet and rhythm we’ll fall into a comfortable routine I think. But until then kudo’s and criticisms for both of us are appreciated.

      And yes.My biggest beef is the blind partisanship that destroys any progress.The lines are drawn between parties and power at times matter more than progress.


      • Two things stood out today, for me at least;
        1) your clear understanding that most folks don’t understand the whole BCH mess, partly because it requires attention and partly because it involves so much CPA lingo.
        2) Jon McComb is so up on the topics and is really in his element going head to head. With anyone.


  4. that dam, dam will never be beyond the point of no return. It can always be drained and the land reclaimed. Dams are expensive to maintain. It won’t be finished by the time of the next election, so if Christy isn’t there, anyone who is can pull the plug and still save us a lot of money on building and maintenance.

    if Christy is re-elected and the dam finished, well we might want to find another province or country to live in, until the province is bankrupt and we can return. Why return to a bankrupt province, well Christy and her cabal will be gone and we could re-build.


  5. Two things that stood out in this mornings discussions were the caller that put Martin Brown in his place for trying to pass the blame for IPP projects, he called Brown on that and rightfully so.
    The second was Jon McComb inquiring of Martin Brown didn’t anyone check with California about whether they would purchase IPP power. How ridiculous Mr. Brown could try and defend that!
    You didn’t get to say much Laila but what you said was important and the contrast obvious.


  6. Haven’t heard Horgan and Co. say they’d actually cease this and close it down. Where do you stand and not like previously reported where there was no straight answer. It’s either yes, it will continue to proceed, or no, it’ll be shutdown. What do you say Mr. Horgan and the NDP?


  7. Curt if you were a new Captain and were not given any charts and information! would you commit to taking a vessel into waters unknown ???


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