September 3, 2012
Poll shows support for Site C project
A majority of the people in British Columbia are strongly in favour of the construction of the Site C hydroelectric project on the Peace River, provided certain conditions are met, according to a poll commissioned by BC Hydro.
“While many large infrastructure projects these days experience public opinion resistance, this has not been the case for Site C,” concluded a poll conducted by Harris Decima.
“The majority of people believe there is a collective responsibility to ensure energy supplies for future generations, and provided (that there is) meaningful consultation and support for those most affected, and a thorough environmental review process, that this project makes sense for the province.”
Harris Decima recently released the results of a province wide telephone survey conducted between July 8 and 12, with a sample of 807 people.
The poll found that 80 per cent of the people sampled support the construction of the dam or can accept it under circumstances.
According to the results, the key conditions for most people include ensuring “people and communities affected by the proposed dam project would be properly consulted and have their concerns taken into account as much as possible.”
Similarly, 77 per cent of the respondents said they would be comfortable with the Site C project “provided it undergoes an extensive, independent environmental review and is approved at the end of that process.”
A total of 15 per cent of the respondents said they are opposed to the Site C project.
However, the poll also showed a low level of public awareness about the project.
About half, 49 per cent, said they have heard nothing about the project so far.
Only one in four people said they have heard a lot or a fair bit about the proposed project, with another 25 per cent saying they have heard a little.
The majority of respondents to the poll support the “building of a major new hydroelectric dam and generating facility,” after they were informed that B.C. is expected to experience significant growth in population, economic growth and electricity demand in the next 20 years.
BC Hydro released a draft Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) 2012 in May, which said the long-term forecast of demand for energy could increase by about 50 per cent over the next two decades.
This was before accounting for savings that can be achieved through conservation and efficiency, or measures to reduce demand.
Growth in demand for electricity from the mining, oil and gas sectors is expected to be strong during this period.
As a result, the draft IRP details the actions BC Hydro recommends to meet this growing demand, in particular the Site C dam project, which is a proposed third dam and hydroelectric generating station on the Peace River in northeast B.C.
The project components are an earthfill dam 1,050 metres long and 60 metres high, an up to 1,100-megawatt generating station and associated structures, an 83-kilometre long reservoir, re-alignment of four sections of Highway 29 and two 77-kilometre transmission lines along existing transmission line right-of-way connecting Site C to Peace Canyon.
Site C is estimated to create about 7,000 person-years of direct construction employment through the seven-year construction period.
The project is estimated to create up to 35,000 direct and indirect jobs through all stages of development and construction.
The project will add 5,100 gigawatt hours of annual energy and 1,100 megawatts of capacity to the system, which is enough energy to power more than 450,000 homes per year.
Site C is currently in Stage 3 of a harmonized federal-provincial environmental review, which includes a joint review panel.
Subject to environmental certification, Stage 4 would include the conclusion of procurement, design and construction planning.
Stage 4 would also provide a decision point for the provincial government to review Site C and decide whether to proceed to Stage 5, which is the final stage or construction.
The earliest in-service date for the project is 2021.
Former premier Gordon Campbell and members of his cabinet met at Hudson’s Hope in April 2010 to give B.C. Hydro approval to move the Site C dam to Stage 3 of the regulatory process.
At the time, the projected cost was $6.6 billion.
The Site C project description report estimates it will have a capital cost of $7.9 billion. The new estimate is based on the upgraded design, and current market prices for labour, equipment and materials.
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