Friday, September 21, 2018

Site C construction delays to increase costs by $610-million, BC Hydro says

The Site C hydroelectric dam project will cost an extra $610-million because it will not meet the construction deadline to divert the Peace River in 2019, the head of BC Hydro says.

The revelation was made as the Crown corporation’s $8.8-billion megaproject is undergoing an independent review by the B.C. Utilities Commission (BCUC).

Although the project is two years and almost $2-billion into construction, the NDP government that took power in July has ordered a review to determine if the project should be completed or cancelled.

An interim report from the BCUC last month identified key information gaps and cast doubt on many of the core assumptions that BC Hydro made to justify the project. This week, BC Hydro president Chris O’Riley responded to the commission, taking the “opportunity for us to share new information” about emerging troubles.

“Like all large, complex projects, Site C faces risks and uncertainties,” he wrote. “BC Hydro has encountered some geo-technical and construction challenges on the project and the risk to the river diversion timeline has now materialized.” A tension crack opened up on the north bank of the river in February, and has continued to defy repair efforts.

Mr. O’Riley said the overall project should still be completed on time, in 2024, but the delay in diverting the river will cost an estimated $610-million, which should be covered by the contingency fund.

However, the BCUC has already flagged concerns that the contingency fund is being drained at an alarming rate, given that the project is not one-quarter complete.

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