theQuestion: Did the provincial government make the right decision approving the Site C dam?*
B.C. has a real energy opportunity in front of it and I am not referring to LNG. I am talking about hydroelectric power — the cleanest form of cheap, plentiful, reliable and sustainable energy the world can muster. You just can’t beat hydroelectric power.
The provincial government just approved BC Hydro’s $8.8-billion Site C mega-project — which adds a third dam to the Peace River. The government calls the project the last of its kind here or anywhere and they are right. In today’s age, large-scale projects such as this are immensely difficult to pull off. But the province can and should do it. Here’s why.
First, the numbers — don’t tune out. The province will soon need more power. The last major hydroelectric facility built in B.C. was in the 1980s and since then our population has grown by 1.5 million. It’s estimated to increase by another one million over the next 20 years. BC Hydro forecasts power demand will increase by 40%, which Site C will help service by providing enough dependable energy to power 450,000 homes per year.
Also, according to the government, Site C construction will create 10,000 direct jobs and boost provincial GDP by $3.2 billion, including a $130-million increase in regional GDP.
Some argue that since we don’t need the power now, Site C shouldn’t be built. This notion is absurd. You must plan for, invest and construct power infrastructure long before you need it, otherwise it will be too late. The longer we wait, the more it will cost, as interest rates rise, and material and labour costs increase.
What about the impact of creating the reservoir? Yes, some land will be flooded. However, since the reservoir is downstream of the existing dams, it reuses the same water, essentially recycling it to draw additional energy from it. In a real way, a hydroelectric dam’s reservoir solves the problem which plagues wind and solar power — lack of storage. Think of the reservoir as a big battery storing large quantities of clean energy ready for when we need it.
If you are an environmentalist you should fully support Site C and don’t let others deem your support as equivocation and evidence of apostasy — you are not abandoning your principles. Hydroelectric power is green. By far the largest percentage of fossil fuels burned is to generate electricity. Hydroelectric power, of course, burns none.