Explore alternatives to Premier Clark’s $9 billion Site C gamble, says NDP’s Horgan

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VICTORIA— Christy Clark is making a $9 billion gamble by moving ahead now with Site C, without knowing its full cost or whether B.C. needs the power, and should send the project for an expert independent review that includes energy alternatives, says B.C. New Democrat leader John Horgan.

“This project should not go forward without the independent and professional oversight of the B.C. Utilities Commission,” said Horgan. “A responsible government would instruct B.C. Hydro to submit an alternative energy plan to the BCUC to be compared to Site C.

“British Columbians deserve an independent assessment of the jobs and environmental benefits B.C. could have with a $9 billion investment in a plan that includes renewable geothermal, solar and wind energy and conservation through extensive home, commercial and industrial retrofits.”

Horgan said that the premier’s announcement is the result of bad policy and even worse timing.  First, the B.C. Liberals restricted B.C. Hydro from developing small-scale hydro, wind, geothermal and solar projects. Second, built on the premier’s timetable Site C will lose $800 million in its first four years of operation, hurting families paying their Hydro bills and hurting important industries and the people they employ.

“Energy markets are changing, with lower cost solar panels, improvements in geothermal, and advances in building energy efficiency giving us new alternatives for job creating, non-emitting sources of power,” said Horgan.

“British Columbians can’t take the premier at her word anymore. The B.C. Liberals’ refusal to allow independent oversight means British Columbians don’t have hard numbers on the cost of this project or how it compares to alternative energy sources.”

Horgan said that in announcing the decision to build the dam, Premier Clark glossed over very serious issues around consultation with First Nations that have yet to be addressed. He added that an alternative plan focused on other renewables and conservation would lead to opportunities for First Nations.

“Distributed renewable and conservation projects have a lot of advantages, including creating jobs throughout the province. They can also improve the robustness of our power grid and they can lower transmission losses since energy is consumed closer to where it is produced.

“Until we see Site C held up against the same investment in renewables and conservation, British Columbians won’t have a complete picture of the costs involved or the potential for new jobs, and we should not be going ahead. These decisions should be left to the professionals, not the partisan politicians.”