Today, the proposed Site C 1,100 MW hydroelectric dam
in northern British Columbia received environmental assessment
(EA) approvals from both the Provincial [pdf] and Federal
In issuing its EA certificate, two provincial
ministers decided that that the mega-dam project is
"in the public interest and that the benefits
provided by the project outweigh the risks of significant adverse
environmental, social and heritage
effects." The provincial
EA certificate sets out 77 legally-binding
For its part, the federal minister of environment issued an EA Decision Statement [pdf] setting out 80
conditions the project proponent must meet.
Certainly, obtaining environmental approval is
major milestones for the project,
but it must still receive a final investment
decision (FID) from the BC Government, which according
to media reports is expected before the end of 2014.
The decision for Government will not be an easy one. In face of
viable cost-effective alternatives, the massive Site C construction
project is directly competing for labour and materials
with the nascent liquefied natural
gas (LNG) projects whose proponents are preparing to
make their own FIDs in the coming months. Timing is crucial and
margins are thin. In addition, the $7.9B cost estimate of the
project is over four years old and must properly be
brought current, especially given today's market realities.
For the BC renewable energy industry, major project development
opportunities remain, including working with First Nations and
supplying remote communities, electrifying the LNG industry
and the numerous proposed mines around BC. The
province has a tremendous bounty of clean and renewable
energy resources and a history of developing them. At present,
the private clean energy sector is ready,
willing and able to invest in British Columbia, but for how
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