BC Hydro, a Canadian provincially owned utility, is considering the implementation of the Site C hydro dam on the Peace river, near its border with Alberta in north eastern British Columbia.
The power house would contain six units each with a capacity of 150MW and supply approximately 4800MWh of power annually. The C$2.1B hydro project was mothballed in the early 1980s due to reduced demand forecasts, high interest rates, and opposition by environmental groups. BC Hydro has included the project in its integrated energy plan that outlines the utility’s vision for managing the province’s electricity system over the next 20 years.
Documents submitted by BC Hydro to the BC Utilities Commission indicate that the Site C dam is the lowest cost large hydro power option and that the project would be required to meet energy demand by 2018. However, the utility expects to rely on the private sector to provide as much as ‘99%’ of the cost of building the earthfill dam across the Peace river.
Site C comes with significant environmental and social costs. The construction of the project is estimated to affect 5125ha of land in sparsely populated northern BC. It is estimated that 25 families living in farms along the Peace river would require relocation.
If implemented, Site C, the third hydro dam on the Peace river, would be located downstream of the WAC Bennett and Peace Canyon dams. BC Hydro estimates the project would take nine years to complete, including two years to obtain environmental approvals.