This hydroelectric earthfill dam on the Peace River includes several components: an earthfill dam 1,050 metres long and 60 metres high, a 1,100-MW generating station and associated structures, an 83-kilometre-long reservoir, realignment of six sections of Highway 29, and two 77-kilometre transmission lines along an existing transmission line right-of-way, connecting Site C to the existing provincial power grid.
The project’s rigorous environmental assessment was completed in October 2014 and approval granted after numerous consultation meetings, presentations, and events with the public, Aboriginal groups, and local governments. Preliminary engineering work has been done, including the development of plans for construction access roads, clearing plans, construction materials, geotechnical shoreline investigations, and reviews of highway realignment plans.
In 2017, the new NDP-Green coalition government called for an independant review of the Site C project by the B.C. Utilities Commission to determine if it should be continued, delayed, or cancelled outright. As a result of the delays caused by the investigation, BC Hydro president and CEO Chris O’Riley announced that the project cost had risen by $610 million. The total forecast project cost now sits $8.945 billion, with the additional project cost set aside as a contigency fund. The increased cost was associated with the inability to meet the timeline of river diversion in 2019. However, it was determined that the project completion deadline of November 2024 was still attainable.
In the fall of 2020, the issue of project cancellation was raised again during the provincial election, with Premier John Horgan restating that, because of the estimated $4 billion spent prior to his government taking power, proceeding with the project was the most responsible action. In October, the Peace River was diverted around the Site C dam site. This diversion will now be in place until construction is complete.