The pros and cons of power generation plan

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The Site C Environmental Assessment Joint Review Panel has released its recommendations to government on the Peace River hydro-electric project. Here are the top benefits and costs of the dam, as reported by the panel

 

Benefits

  • A large amount of reliable energy
  • Low price for future generations
  • Low carbon emissions
  • The ability to integrate other forms of renewable energy sources in the future
  • Job opportunities, including for small regional businesses and First Nations
  • Benefits associated with a regional economic boom, including more goods and services available to locals
  • Appropriate mitigation measures proposed by BC Hydro

 

Costs

  • High price in the near future
  • Uncertainty over whether the power will be needed in the future
  • "Significant adverse effects" on Peace River fish, animals and ecosystems
  • An end to farming on the Peace Valley bottom lands
  • Loss of paleontological, archaeological and historic sites
  • Health risks associated with eating reservoir fish that require further study
  • Effects on the lands and resources used by Aboriginal people for traditional purposes
  • Effects on Aboriginal treaty rights that will need to be weighed by governments 
  • Social risks associated with a regional economic boom, especially with the expectation of a significant number outside workers coming to the area

 

Other findings

  • There may be more room for energy conservation and efficiencies than BC Hydro provided in their analyses
  • Alternative types of power projects, such as geothermal, could be pursued at similar costs, which could be built to better match BC's energy demand
  • Risks related to engineering have been appropriately mitigated in BC Hydro's plans
  • BC Hydro's collaboration with the local community should allow the community to use the benefits from the project to meet challenges related to health, education and housing
  • The Peace Region is already undergoing significant "enormous stress" from other development projects. The cumulative impact of these projects on nearby ecosystems is significant, and would be made more so from the Site C project.

 

Peter Severinson is the director of research for Resource Works.


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