BC Hydro

Blunders, haste and waste

BC Hydro’s Chris O’Riley may be new to the CEO’s chair, but he’s not new to the management of Site C. So, it is astounding that his letter to BCUC this week included a particular statement in admitting the project’s budget and construction schedule are askew. O’Riley indicated that another $600 million has been added to the dam’s estimated cost. He said:

BC Hydro has encountered some geotechnical and construction challenges on the project and the risk to the river diversion timeline has now materialized…

We can only wonder why the admission came more than two months after the John Horgan Government tasked BCUC with a quick review of Site C. It comes two weeks after the regulator issued a preliminary report, which, according to Desmogblog writer Judith Lavoie:

…underlined the extent of missing and out-dated information and pointed out unknowns surrounding the largest and most expensive infrastructure project in B.C.

Soil instability on Peace River embankments has plagued the area forever. The only thing changed now is the level of scrutiny by people who aim to inform the people of BC, even while BC Hydro downplayed its troubles.

This crown corporation has an appalling record when it comes to accurate and timely disclosure of information. I’ve noted here before that the previous CEO had to apologize for the company being untruthful in a submission to BCUC. Additionally, I’ve noted that it broke provincial statutes by failing to release its first quarter financial report by September 15. That information is still withheld.

That site instability is leading to huge cost overruns comes as no surprise to anyone who has followed Site C issues. The following was first published in February 2017:


To enhance the reading experience, a little musical accompaniment is provided with new pictures from the Peace River construction site of Site C.

Cracking seems to have grown worse on the unstable slopes above the river.

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This photograph shows a partly built bridge to Eagle Island.

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Damien Gillis produced a video about this site in the summer of 2015:

The balance of this item was published here February 17:


“Take time for all things: great haste makes great waste.”
Ben Franklin

We know the Premier vowed to get Site C dam past the “point of no return” before the May 2017 provincial election. Clark’s Liberals have their own reasons for Site C haste and these eventually will be revealed, perhaps by a postmortem report of an inquiry into the economic destruction of BC Hydro.

However, we do know that incautiously pushing a project forward can be costly. Unfortunately, the cost of error will fall not on decision makers but on taxpayers not wealthy enough to hide their income elsewhere.

This is from a report prepared in 2012 by BGC Engineering Inc. for BC Hydro’s Site C Unneeded Energy Project:

Much of the proposed reservoir shoreline is flanked by steep valley walls underlain by fine textured material composed of glaciolacustrine sands, silts and clays, silty colluvium, or shale bedrock. Most of these slopes have been mapped as unstable (Class V) or potentially unstable (Class IV)…

Areas mapped as slope stability class IV or V have a moderate to high (30-100%) likelihood of slope failures following disturbance…

Don Hoffmann provides evidence of slope failure in the form of photographs he took recently near the Peace River, site of Site C dam construction:

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Thanks to Don Hoffmann for permitting these photographs to be published at In-Sights. All other rights reserved by Mr. Hoffmann.

Categories: BC Hydro, Site C

11 replies »

  1. What the hell folks, now that our business oriented government has bankrupt BC Hydro, once the jewel in our crown, whats another $10 Billion or do for power we don’t need and no customers? Just good business!

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    • If not good business, at least good for business, if you’re Samsung, Accionona, Petrowest or another Driving Force privileged to profit from Site C.

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  2. I hadn’t quite finished! The BC HYDRO DEBT at some $ 76 Billion was goof business because so many pals of the Liberal government made loads of money on their sweetheart deal and if not Christy’s political cronies, who else? It would be silly to leave it with the taxpayers and ratepayers who probably would just wasre it on food and shelter. And Site C is a very clever business move. You see it works like this – BC Hydro, commits $11Billion or so and by cleverly producing enetgy they don’t need and not being able to sell it, while builing very expensive dams on insecure terrain … I can see that you’re not paying attention and your minds are wandering just not able to grasp high finance like experienced our financial experts Christy Clark whose higher education includes flunking out of three top notch universites, and Rich Coleman whose record in handing out complicated parking tickets got him, so I’m told, into the Flatfoot Fiscal Hall of Fame. You see folks, you have to really understand high finsnce to break a hugely wealthy, successful energy compsny and a province at the same time and have money left over for substantial political pay-offs – if you can’t understand, you’ll just have to take Christy and Rich’s word for it. After all, with that handy trillion dollars soon to go into the Prosperity Fund and’ gee pretty soon I betcha, all our debts paid off, all from LNG we don’t have going to countries who don’t want it at prices too high for the non ecidtent market surely you can see that we’re all better off leaving matters of high finance to experts like Christy and the Cop and just relax and vote Liberal so they can finish the job of bankrupting the Province too. Don’t be stupid and vote those other buggers who made such a mess last time that they only left poor old Gordon Campbell a $5 billion surplus. Always go with the track record, folks, and let’s let Christy and the cop finish us off. Remember, YOU’RE IN CLEAN HANDS WITH CHRISTY!

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    • I wouldn’t build a HOUSE on that ground, never mind a dam. I wonder how much they’ve allotted to downstream ‘benefits’ and this whole shebang gives way?

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  3. Hasn’t changed much since February you say? Well, the cracks have got bigger, the Acciones/Samsung consortium lost their favourite (besides Chrispy) enabler. Petrowest, to bankruptcy, have been sued for over $2 million by a local contractor and we, the taxpayer have pissed away another half a billion dollars! Maybe we can make it back at BC Lottery!
    And to think some people still support this gang. Sheesh!

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  4. If NDP dont cancel and Greens dont insist it will become fast ferries times 20X and even though NDP didnt start the process they will lose the next BC election in 3 and 1/2 years.–And wait another 16 years to ..
    Greens said no 10 Billion dollar site C so they should walk with their 3 votes?
    BCHydro day 95 breaking the law for 5 days with no mandatory 1st quarter report.?

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  5. “The commission’s (BCUC) mandate means it cannot consider existing electricity supply possibilities from the Burrard Generating Station or supply from B.C.’s entitlement under the Columbia River Treaty, Eliesen says. Each could supply power roughly equivalent to Site C’s output, he says.”

    ……

    “If the Burrard Generating Station had not been removed from BC Hydro’s Integrated Resource Plan there would be no need for the commission’s inquiry,” writes Eliesen. “There would have been no scenario upon which the construction of Site C could have been justified.”

    https://thetyee.ca/News/2017/10/13/Kill-Site-C-Former-Hydro-CEO-Tells-Commission/

    The BC Govt shut down Burrard Thermal while at the same time it promoted LNG export.
    One of the uses of LNG is generating electricity.

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