The Peace got a break from the rainstorms of late and I have some new pics today to follow up on last weeks photo post, that are showing a bit more detail on erosion areas now that the bank is a bit drier on the surface. Its clear there is erosion, washouts, and gullies to varying degrees all over the slope.
When you zoom in, you can see a lot of failure spots in the gravel seam just above the diversion inlet portal. If that fails, the next layer above is clay and will come down. As there is forecast rain still ahead – and the rain that’s been falling has often come in heavy downbursts – there will be more cutting in and erosion in these areas.
How much is the continual mitigation of historically well known geotechnical issues in this area of the valley costing us? And I say ‘us’ because we are all going to pay for this in one manner or another.
In 2011 the cost estimate for Site C was pegged at $7.9 billion.
In 2014 that was bumped up to $8.3 billion
In 2017 when Horgan and his caucus announced their decision to continue the project that has been plagued with delays, ongoing geotechnical problems, redesigns and lawsuits, that cost had already escalated to a ridiculous $10.7 billion.
However, in 2018, an affidavit filed in Supreme Court as a result of the Treaty infringement case brought to light some questions about who knew costs were escalating and when they knew them in relation to that decision.
It also revealed that costs could escalate upwards to $12 billion….as detailed by Deloitte.
“The question that comes to mind is: what did BC Hydro know and when did it know it?
Unpacking Site C’s escalating cost overruns in nail-biting detail, Eliesen quotes from statements that BC Hydro made to the B.C. Utilities Commission (BCUC) on August 30 that Site C was “on time and on budget,” and would cost $8.335 billion.
Just thirty-five days later, the affidavit notes that Chris O’Riley, BC Hydro’s president and chief operating officer, informed the BCUC that BC Hydro had encountered some “geological and construction challenges” and the project’s cost had climbed by $610 million — due to a one-year delay in meeting a scheduled diversion of the Peace River to build the dam structure.
At the same time, O’Riley informed the commission that Site C’s $440 million Treasury Board reserve had been exceeded by $170 million. That placed Site C’s revised price tag at close to $9 billion, only two years into a nine or ten-year construction project.
“It is my expert opinion that BC Hydro knew, or should have known, when the August 30threport was submitted to the BCUC, that the costs for the project were going to be higher than disclosed,” Eliesen says in his affidavit.
“If BC Hydro knew the costs were reasonably likely to be higher than disclosed, they violated their obligation to the commission to be fully transparent and support the commission’s inquiry. If BC Hydro honestly did not know at the time the August 30 filing took place that costs would escalate, then BC Hydro was not competently managing its project as it claimed.”
Eliesen, who is also the former chair and CEO of Ontario Hydro and the Manitoba Energy Authority, points out that O’Riley subsequently told the BCUC that “nothing has occurred that would suggest to us that we are facing the type of large overruns” speculated in a September 2017 report by Deloitte LLP, one of Canada’s leading auditing firms.
Deloitte concluded that Site C’s price tag could exceed $10 billion and might reach as high as $12.5 billion.
Yet less than two months after O’Riley’s statement, Premier John Horgan announced that Site C’s capital costs had escalated by another $2 billion, or 20 per cent.
Horgan set Site C’s new price tag at $10.7 billion when he said in December that the project would proceed, claiming it was past “the point of no return,” an assertion disputed by project financing experts.
“A paucity of information has been provided as to what has driven the additional $2 billion in project costs,” notes Eliesen.
“Clearly, the budget revision exercise that took place in November determined that the additional $2 billion in cost was warranted, while on October 14, 2017, Mr. O’Riley told the Commission that there would be no further budget increases.”
“Either BC Hydro knew, or should have known, about the looming budget increases related to future contracts.”
That story by Narwhal will continue to br something to remember as this project continues, because the lack of transparency with respect to detailed costs is still an issue.
BC Hydro is required to report to the BC Utilities Commission every quarter on the progress of site c. You can find those reports right here: https://www.sitecproject.com/news-and-information/progress-reports-to-the-bcuc
The last report filed covered the period from January 2019 to end of March 2019 – we are still awaiting the most recent report that will cover April to June 2019. However in reading the Jan to March report, its clear the risk for this project to continue to escalate in costs is still very high, and in my assessment of the ongoing reports, very likely.
You can read that full report in PDF format at this link: https://www.sitecproject.com/sites/default/files/00_2019_07_11_BCH_Site_C_RPT_15_PUB_FF.pdf
While Hydro lists two small tables giving a vague overview of costs ( actual expenditures for 2019 have increased as opposed to what was forecast ), Appendixes C,D,and E that cover contracts over $10 million, Project Progress and Detailed Project Expenditure have all been redacted.. and it was only just last January that BC Hydro fought in court, to keep Site C expenditures a secret from the public.
This is unacceptable and something that the NDP correctly criticized the BC Liberals for when they were in opposition. Everything was a secret. Contracts, once issued, no longer need to be secret. No one else is building a dam in slide prone valley anywhere else in BC, what competitors are they worried about?
Expenditures and project progress shouldn’t be secret either. Perhaps if they had been, past public projects could have been prevented from going grossly over budget. There is absolutely no reason those expenditures should be hidden from public.
My most recent post with the first set of photos, brought Site C back into active discussion again, and has been shared extensively online…particularly since the NDP announced a hefty surplus on the budget.
It’s been suggested that with the changes the NDP have made ,and a surplus announced, that now is the best time to walk away from Site C. Lindsay Brown has posted some excellent points on twitter that really need to be addressed, like the fact that the Clean Energy Act that exempted Site C from BCUC review, still hasn’t had the section amended that would prevent another Site C from happening again. That was something Auditor General Carol Bellringer nudged the NDP about last year, https://thenarwhal.ca/auditor-general-nudges-b-c-amend-act-exempted-site-c-dam-independent-review/, because as John Horgan once said back while he was energy critic, the act still allows politicians to make decisions around the cabinet table, instead of having the BCUC make decisions and take oversight as it was created to do.
I would certainly be concerned that other projects considered ‘clean’ might also end up exempted from BCUC review too… just because they can.
There are also concerns about the Auditor General removing the qualification on BC Hydros statements, when full oversight of Hydro by the BCUC still hasnt occurred.
It’s time to get serious about all of this. And I totally get that many would rather I just shut up “because BC Liberals”, but guess what?
I don’t want to ever see this happen to another community, clean energy or not. Politicians have no right making decisions that the BC Utilities Commission was created to make.
Horgan and his caucus should never have been allowed to make the decision of continuing the dam or not, when the ultimate cost could reach $12 billion,First Nations are impacted forever, and a unique valley ecosystem is lost forever.
(Horgan and his caucus should also never have been allowed to exempt health impacts of fracking from their review that detailed unknown risks because data and monitoring of water and wells was insufficient. I mention this because site C power may end up powering LNG )
Future ratepayers will feel the pain of the increased hydro rates from this white elephant. You and I will bot pay more, while any industrial customers will continue to pay less, because we already know that the NDP will continue to subsidize corporate entities involved with LNG development and gas extraction, because ‘jobs’. I don’t discount the need for good trades work. I do however think there are other projects more worthy that wont involve making foreign corporations profits bigger while our resource royalties drop even more.
No amount of positive action on other files gives the NDP a free pass on LNG, site C or the way they have abandoned everyone dealing with troubling health issues who are living in the gas fields. Read this. And then read every link I have added to this post, and you’ll see why it matters. https://thenarwhal.ca/potential-health-impacts-of-fracking-in-b-c-worry-dawson-creek-physicians/
Rare cancers. Lung diseases. Should I go on?
I can’t help but think of Erin Brockovich and her fights, when I think of the how this government exempted the health impacts from the fracking review. I read an article once where she said that she was an advocate for awareness and a persons right to know, because in the absence of truth or knowledge, we all stand helpless to defend ourselves, our families and our health. That’s how I feel about all of this. Site C. Fracking. Shawnigan Lake. It’s starting to add up…and I don’t like the picture it paints. If we don’t know the truth, if we don’t know what’s going on, we can’t fight it effectively.
So what do you do?
Demand answers, demand better policy, and pay attention. Ask for meetings. Ask for the data they used to make their decisions… Because it might be your backyard next time, on a different issue. And who will fight for you then?
** Bob Mackin of Breaker News had some interesting tweets sent onto me last night. BC Hydro is still keeping secrets….