British Columbia’s Liberal leader Christy Clark was in Fort St. John last week, the northern community most closely connected to the Site C dam, an $8.8 billion hydro project on the Peace River.
"This is the biggest clean energy project under way anywhere in North America. It is going to create thousands of good paying jobs, family supporting jobs. It is going to mean our economy can be powered by clean, affordable power," said Clark.
There are 2,124 people working on the site, with a projection from BC Hydro that more than 5,000 people could work on the dam in the province's northeast by 2020, CBC News reported.
But getting the project to the finish line is not a guarantee. There are questions about whether the electricity is even needed, or whether investing in old technology, compared to alternatives like wind power, is a prudent decision.
Political rivals in the NDP want Site C referred to the BC Utilities Commission, while the Green party dismisses the project as a subsidy for the LNG export sector. Clark has consistently refused to refer Site C to the commission, the agency with the expertise to investigate whether the electricity from such a facility is needed.
A new report released by the University of British Columbia calls the Site C business case 'weak' and suggests the project be suspended. In what researchers bill as a 'comprehensive analysis,' they say Site C is now much more expensive than an alternative consisting of wind power, pumped storage and energy conservation.
Clark said she had not read the report, but suggested it “was not written by either an electricity planner or an engineer,” according to the Vancouver Sun.
The 60-metre-high dam is expected to produce 1,100 megawatts of electricity by 2023.