BC Hydro says pandemic expected to delay, increase cost of Site C dam project

VICTORIA—British Columbia’s massive Site C hydroelectric dam project has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and now faces construction delays and rising costs.

BC Hydro president Chris O’Riley said in a quarterly update submitted to the B.C. Utilities Commission that the pandemic has had a material impact on safety, cost and schedule for the project in northeast B.C.

Site C’s budget in April 2018 was estimated at $10.7 billion, including reserve and contingency funds amounting to about $1.5 billion for unexpected costs.

O’Riley’s update to the utilities commission does not estimate the extent of increased costs but says reserve funds are being accessed.

Energy Minister Bruce Ralston says in a statement that he’s concerned about the news and has appointed former deputy finance minister Peter Milburn as a special adviser to the project.

Site C will be the third dam and hydroelectric generating station on the Peace River and will provide enough energy to power the equivalent of about 450,000 homes per year in B.C.