Preliminary report due from utilities commission on Site C megaproject

VANCOUVER _ The British Columbia Utilities Commission is working to meet a deadline today for a preliminary report on its review of the $8.8-billion Site C dam in the province’s northeast.

Spokeswoman Katharine Carlsen says the report will be delivered to government and posted on the commission’s website.

But she says the commission is working to a “tight timeline” and doesn’t anticipate it will be posted within regular business hours.

BC Hydro says it has already spent $1.8 billion on construction for the hydroelectric dam planned for the Peace River, but Premier John Horgan’s NDP government asked the commission to review the economic viability of the project after taking office.

Hydro’s 866-page submission to the commission says completing the dam as planned would still be best for ratepayers and terminating the project would cost $7.3 billion on a present-value basis.

The submission says demand for electricity is growing and without the dam, the province would hit an energy shortfall by 2031.

A report submitted for the commission’s review by the auditing firm Deloitte LLP concluded that putting the project on hold until 2025 would cost about $1.4 billion, while cancelling it outright would cost $1.2 billion.

The Deloitte report says that the dam’s construction faces major risks including contractor performance problems, unforeseen geotechnical conditions and cost issues related to major contracts that haven’t been awarded yet.