“If government is going to make a decision, then let’s make sure at least that we put our best foot forward and let’s commission this study,” Clean Energy executive director Paul Kariya said on Thursday.
“What government does with the study, whether they agree or disagree – we’ve got that dialogue going on right now.”
That dialogue is taking place as the government mulls whether to proceed with Site C, which would be the third dam on B.C.’s Peace River and has a current price estimate of $7.9-billion.
The project, first proposed in the 1970s, cleared significant hurdles this week when it received environmental approvals from the federal and provincial governments.
But it faces questions about its potential cost and even whether it is needed to meet future energy needs.
B.C. Hydro says the province’s electricity needs are expected to grow by about 40 per cent over the next 20 years, that conservation and efficiency programs won’t be enough to fill the gap and that Site C is the best option when financial, technical, environmental and economic factors are taken into account.
Clean Energy’s new report challenges that position, and maintains the province could save up to $1-billion over 70 years – the projected life of the Site C dam – by pursuing smaller projects including wind installations and run-of-river hydro projects.
Such projects have a contentious history in B.C., including concerns about environmental impacts from river hydro installations over the past decade.