August 19, 2013
Site C Dam enters joint review panel phase
The environmental review of BC Hydro's proposal for the construction of the Site C Dam project has entered the joint review panel stage.
BC Hydro submitted an amended Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency and the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office on Aug. 2.
This marked the end of the pre-panel stage of the environmental assessment and the beginning of the Joint Review Panel (JRP).
The panel, appointed by federal and provincial environment ministers, consists of the chair, Harry Swain, and members, James Mattison and Jocelyne Beaudet.
Swain is an expert in public environmental policy with experience in both the public and private sectors. He has worked for 22 years in the federal government, in nine federal departments between 1971 and 1995.
Mattison is a professional engineer and senior natural resources expert with 30 years of experience, including twenty-five years with British Columbia’s water program within the Ministry of Environment.
Beaudet is a communications consultant with thirty years of experience in various fields related to the environment and public participation.
The proposed project consists of constructing and operating a dam and 1,100-megawatt hydroelectric generating station on the Peace River in north-eastern British Columbia. The main components of the dam, generating station and spillways are:
• A left (north) bank stabilization: a large excavation to remove unstable materials from the bank above the earthfill dam and flatten the slope for long-term stability;
• Two diversion tunnels used for river diversion during construction;
• An earthfill dam 1,050 metres long and 60 metres high across the river valley abutting onto bedrock on the north bank and a buttress of roller compacted concrete (RCC) on the south bank;
• An RCC buttress that would support the south wall of the valley and provide an abutment for the earthfill dam and the foundation for the generating station and spillways;
• A 1,100-megawatt generating station, consisting of power intakes, penstocks (large pipes that convey the water from the intakes to the powerhouse) and a six unit powerhouse;
• A spillway with seven gates and a free overflow auxiliary spillway to discharge inflows that exceed the capacity of the generating station;
• A lined approach channel to convey water from the reservoir to the power intakes and the spillways; and
• Three 500 kV transmission lines to conduct electricity from the generating station to a new substation near the dam site.
The project would create an 83 km-long reservoir that would be on average two to three times the width of the current river.
Creation of the reservoir will require realignment of about 30 km of existing highway at Lynx Creek, Dry Creek, Farrell Creek, Farrell Creek East, Halfway River and Cache Creek.
BC Hydro estimates it will generate about 10,000 person-years of direct employment during the construction period.
The estimated average annual construction phase workforce on-site would be about 800 workers, with a peak of 1,700 to 2,100 workers in year five of construction.
Temporary camp accommodations and facilities for the construction phase are planned for the dam site, on both the north and south banks of the Peace River in close proximity to the work sites.
BC Hydro forecasts that customer demand for electricity is expected to increase by about 40 per cent over the next 20 years. The company argues that the project is required to meet this projected demand and would provide energy and dependable capacity for more than 100 years.
The need for the Project is being established by BC Hydro using a load forecast that does not include any load associated with the construction of any proposed LNG facilities in the province.
This is due to the fact that the requirements of the facilities have not yet been confirmed by proponents.
However, more demand from these facilities would increase the load forecast and could accelerate the need for new generation resources in B.C.
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