BC Hydro is proposing the Site C Clean Energy Project — a third hydroelectric facility on the Peace River in northeast B.C. — to meet a 40 per cent increase in long-term electricity needs. Below are some of the key reasons why Site C is an attractive option to meet this growing demand.
Clean and renewable electricity
Large hydro projects like Site C use water to generate electricity, which is clean and renewable. As a result, Site C would produce among the lowest levels of greenhouse gas emissions, per unit of energy, when compared to other forms of electricity generation, and significantly less than fossil fuel sources.
Site C is expected to result in lower costs to ratepayers over the long-term than other clean energy options. An independent Joint Review Panel concluded that: “Site C would be the least expensive of the alternatives, and its cost advantages would increase with the passing decades as inflation makes alternatives more costly.”
The Site C reservoir would be comparatively smaller than BC Hydro’s other major hydroelectric projects because it would rely on the existing Williston Reservoir for water storage. This would enable Site C to generate approximately 35 per cent of the energy produced at the W.A.C. Bennett Dam, with only five per cent of the reservoir area.
Site C power would always be available when needed, unlike renewables such as wind and run-of-river hydro that are intermittent. As a result, Site C would help integrate intermittent renewables as the project’s generation could be increased when intermittent resources are not available (e.g., when the wind is not blowing), and could be decreased when intermittent resources are available.
Jobs and economic growth
The project would create 10,000 person-years of direct employment during construction and 33,000 person-years of employment in total. It would add $3.2 billion to B.C.’s GDP, and $130 million to regional GDP.
Long life of more than 100 years
Large hydro projects like Site C have a long life of more than 100 years and benefit generations of British Columbians. That’s why the Joint Review Panel wrote: “A few decades hence, when inflation has worked its eroding way on cost, Site C could appear as a wonderful gift from the ancestors of that future society, just as B.C. consumers today thank the dam-builders of the 1960s.”