Diversion tunnels have been completed to redirect the Peace River during low water this summer and fall, in one of the most critical steps to completing the Site C dam, March 2020. (BC Hydro)

Diversion tunnels have been completed to redirect the Peace River during low water this summer and fall, in one of the most critical steps to completing the Site C dam, March 2020. (BC Hydro)

B.C. Hydro’s Site C set back by COVID-19, foundation changes

Peace River diversion still on track for this fall

B.C. Hydro’s plan to have the third dam on the Peace River complete and in service by 2024 has been set back by work scaling down due to COVID-19 restrictions on construction projects, and additional foundation strengthening for the powerhouse and spillway.

In a progress report filed with the B.C. Utilities Commission July 31, B.C. Hydro CEO Chris O’Riley says the Site C project is still on track to divert the Peace River through a pair of tunnels and begin in-river work. But that too has been complicated by geological conditions. The financial impact of the coronavirus delays and additional work will be better known in the fall, O’Riley said.

“Pandemic-related delays will present further cost pressure on the budget,” O’Riley wrote in a letter to BCUC chair David Morton. “As the evolution of the pandemic is uncertain and the date of resolution is unknown, various cost and scheduled impact scenarios continue to be assessed and refined as part of the re-baselining process.”

The incoming NDP government reluctantly decided to carry on with Site C, after former premier Christy Clark vowed to push the project “past the point of no return” before the 2017 B.C. election. In doing so, Premier John Horgan approved an updated cost estimate of $10.7 billion to complete it, an increase of about $1 billion from the initial estimate.

RELATED: Site C dam project carries on under NDP government

RELATED: NDP pays off $1.1B in B.C. Hydro debt, seeks rate cut

RELATED: After losing at every level, West Moberly sues again

Now the combined effects of COVID-19 and a series of problems have pushed the cost up by an amount not yet known. Those issues included changes to the main civil works contract, increased costs of reservoir clearing, power line construction and highway realignment, and first nations treaty infringement claims and an injunction application.

“Towards the end of December 2019, investigations and analysis of geological mapping and monitoring activities completed during construction identified that some foundation enhancements would be required to increase the stability below the powerhouse, spillway and future dam core areas,” O’Riley wrote.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Site C was on track for completion by fall 2023 and full service to the B.C. Hydro grid by 2024.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureCoronavirusSite C

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Power outages affected thousands of BC Hydro customers in the north on Jan. 14 (File photo) (File photo)
Power outages affect thousands of BC Hydro customers in northern B.C.

Transmission failure led to outages in Prince Rupert and Port Edward

A Prince Rupert port expansion project received a $25 million investment from the provincial government, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure announced on Jan. 14. Seen here is Ridley Terminals Inc., a coal export terminal in Prince Rupert (Shannon Lough / The Northern View)
$25 million government investment in Prince Rupert port expansion project

Prince Rupert port expansion project expected to create more than 2,200 jobs

For the second time in less than a year, Air Canada announced on Jan. 13 it has suspended flights on the Prince Rupert-Vancouver route as of Jan 17. (Photo by: Jerold Leblanc)
Cessation of flights to YPR will affect the municipal economy and global trade, P.R. Mayor said

Chamber of Commerce said it will aggressively pursue the resumption of flights to Prince Rupert

Air Canada has suspended flights to Prince Rupert Regional Airport due to COVID-19 mitigation, the airline announced on Jan. 13. (Photo:THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
YPR is not immune to plummeted air travel demands – 25 jobs lost

Prince Rupert Regional Airport flight cancellation will levee significant hardship - Rick Leach

Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the press theatre at the B.C. legislature for an update on COVID-19, Jan. 7, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 spread steady with 509 new cases Friday

Hospitalized and critical care cases decline, nine deaths

Harvest Meats is recalling a brand of Polish sausages, shown in a handout photo, due to undercooking that may make them unsafe to eat. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says the recall affects customers in Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Northwest Territories, Ontario and Saskatchewan. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Canadian Food Inspection Agency Mandatory Credit
Harvest Meats recalls sausages over undercooking

Customers are advised to throw away or return the product

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Martin Luther King Jr. addresses the crowd during the march on Washington, D.C., in August of 1963. Courtesy photo
Government announces creation of B.C.’s first anti-racism act on Black Shirt Day

B.C. Ministers say education “a powerful tool” in the fight for equity and equality

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon shared a handwritten note his son received on Jan. 13, 2021. (Ravi Kahlon/Twitter)
Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

North Delta MLA took to Twitter to share a letter his son received from a new kid at school

Black Press media file
Port McNeill driver tells police he thought the pandemic meant no breathalyzers

Suspect facing criminal charges after breathalyzer readings in excess of 3.5 times the legal limit

Forestry companies in B.C. agree to abide by the cedar protocols based on traditional laws of the First Nation members of the Nanwakolas Council. (Photo courtesy, Nanwakolas Council)
Landmark deal sees B.C. forest firms treat big cedars like a First Nation would

Western Forest Products, Interfor among companies to adapt declaration drafted by Nanwakolas Council

A northern resident killer whale shows injuries sustained by a collision with a vessel in B.C. waters. (Photo supplied by Ocean Wise Conservation Association)
Coast Guard ramps up protections for B.C. whales

First-ever Marine Mammal Desk will enhance cetacean reporting and enforcement

Two toucans sit on tree at an unidentified zoo. (Pixabay.com)
BC SPCA calls for ban on exotic animal trade after 50 parrots, toucans pass through YVR

One toucan was found dead and several others were without food

Most Read