by Greg Klein | December 16, 2014
An $8.335-billion hydroelectric dam in British Columbia got the go-ahead December 16, drawing praise from the mining industry. The 1,100-megawatt project would provide B.C. with “the most affordable, reliable clean power for over 100 years,” according to a provincial government statement. The Association for Mineral Exploration British Columbia congratulated the province for its long-anticipated decision.
With work scheduled to begin next summer, the project’s expected to take eight years to build, providing about 10,000 direct construction jobs. Site C “will ensure that mineral development projects throughout the province will have a reliable supply of clean hydroelectric power for generations to come,” said a statement from AME BC president/CEO Gavin Dirom. “Ten potential mines in northwestern British Columbia, for example, would require 328 megawatts of electricity—a demand equivalent to approximately 4% of the total electricity capacity of the province.”
Large-scale hydro projects have given Quebec, Manitoba and B.C. among North America’s lowest electricity costs, according to the industry advocacy group. “B.C. is an attractive place for mineral development because of historic investments made in reliable and clean hydro power,” added Dirom. “This decision will maintain that key competitive edge.”
With an expected population increase of more than a million people, electricity demand is expected to jump by 40% over the next 20 years, according to the province. BC Hydro, a Crown corporation, says it plans to meet 78% of new demand through conservation and efficiency measures by 2020.
Site C would be the third large-scale dam on northeastern B.C.’s Peace River. Environmentalists have long opposed the project, which faces legal challenges from local landowners as well as B.C. and Alberta native bands.