By Jon Zacks
The Site-C dam wouldn’t cover British Columbia’s power deficit.
At Tuesday’s regular council meeting, representatives from B.C. Hydro presented council with an update on the findings from stage two of the Site-C dam project, along with a preview of what’s to come in stage three.
Dave Conway and Siobhan Jackson began by telling council the project would produce around 4,600 gigawatt hours of electricity each year, which is enough to power roughly 410,000 homes. Conway says the project would generate roughly 1/3 of the electricity produced by the WAC Bennett Dam, but at 1/10 of the environmental impact. In fact, Jackson says that Site-C would create about 11 tonnes of CO2 equivalent emissions per GW/hr, which she says is comparable to other renewable resources, including wind power.
However, Conway stated that B.C. Hydro’s current generating capacity isn’t enough to power the province during peak capacity times, especially during the winter. He says B.C. Hydro actually trades power with the U.S. on a daily basis, importing power at peak times, and exporting it when there is a surplus. But, because the power purchased at peak hours is more expensive, he admits the province is ‘buying high’ and ‘selling low.’
While the $5 – 6.6 billion project wouldn’t be enough to make up for the province’s power deficit, Conway says it, along with conservation (particularly at peak hours), could help make energy cheaper and more reliable for all British Columbians.
Conway says the crown corporation is now moving into stage three of the Site-C dam process, with the Environmental Assessment process to begin in early 2011. He says stage three meetings will begin this June, and B.C. Hydro is planning ongoing public and stakeholder consultations.
He also says 42 properties would be affected by the flooding and realignment of Highway 29, 81% of which are owned by the crown, 12% by B.C. Hydro, and 7% by private landowners.
Conway also addressed a question posed by Mayor Bruce Lantz, essentially asking why the dam needs to be built here, and why a hydro-electric dam is the best choice, as opposed to tidal power. Conway says in terms of location, B.C. has had a ‘two-river policy’ (the Peace and the Columbia) dating back to the 1950’s, which no government has challenged. As regards other power sources, Conway says tidal power is simply too expensive to cover B.C.’s needs. He added that B.C. Hydro may soon change all power meters in the province to ‘smart meters,’ which would be able to show customers how much power they are using and when. ‘Smart Meters’ would also allow Hydro to move to ‘time of day rates,’ which would charge customers more for power used during peak hours, and less for power used off-peak.
The entire B.C. Hydro report, ‘Stage 2 Report: Consultation and Technical Review’, along with 35 appended studies and reports, is available at: www.bchydro.com/sitec.