British Columbia

Q&A: Green Leader Andrew Weaver on utilities commission report and the future of Site C

Green Leader Andrew Weaver says Site C has become a costly waste of taxpayer money and B.C.'s future lies in alternative energy.

Weaver explains his 'final nail in Site C 's coffin' comment

Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver, shown here watching poll results, says the decision lies with the NDP on whether or not to cancel Site C — but he would have done it the day after the election. (Michael Mcarthur/CBC)

In the wake of the British Columbia Utilities Commission's (BCUC) final report into the Site C dam mega-project, politicians from all provincial parties have weighed in with their observations.

Provincial Energy Minister Michelle Mungall said the NDP government has an "extremely difficult decision" ahead of it, and the final months of 2017 will be spent reviewing the report and consulting with First Nations ahead of a final decision by year's end.

The opposition B.C. Liberals maintain Site C will provide clean and cheap energy for generations to come. Liberal MLA Mike Bernier is urging the New Democrats for certainty regarding the project's future and jobs tied to it.

On Twitter, Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver called the report the "final nail in Site C's coffin."

For more on his takeaway from the BCUC's conclusions, Weaver spoke with host Stephen Quinn during CBC's On the Coast.

The BCUC report says there are scenarios in which cancelling the project could cost B.C. billions of dollars. How can you make the argument this report is the final nail in the coffin?

The report is quite clear ... We've seen a trend of rapid cost escalation with Site C. [B.C. Hydro] have used a substantial fraction of their contingency budget already, two years in.

No project like this is going to come in [on budget] ... It was $4.5 billion a number of years ago ... Now they're talking $10 [billion].

The reality is the demand for power is not there, and we're killing the clean energy sector ... This report reaffirms precisely what the B.C. Greens have been saying: that there are cheaper alternatives ... the alternatives are decreasing in price ... they can create jobs in communities across British Columbia ... It'll have cost overruns and produce power into a market that doesn't exist.

Cancelling the project would cost $4 billion in total and then there is the added cost of pursuing alternative energies. How is cancelling fiscally responsible?

... When Site C is producing power it's going to lose money on every single kilowatt of power produced for decades ... There's no market for the power. That power is going to have to be sold on the U.S. spot market ...

Site C was all about delivering into contracts that B.C. Hydro was instructed to find for LNG proponents to try and attract LNG to B.C. with below market power using the taxpayer to subsidize it.

The small producers [alternative energy sources] would actually have capital ... 

You championed the dam as a source of clean energy. You were there at the launch smiling along with Gordon Campbell in 2010. What changed your mind?

What was launched was the environmental assessment report ... What has changed since then, is that the price has gone up from $4.5 billion ... It won't be completed till 2024, if that ... It'll [cost] $12 to $15 [billion], where as the cost of wind and solar have plummeted ...

Literally, people contact me daily about projects that want to go: solar in Cranbrook, geothermal in Valemont, pump-hydro on Vancouver Island, wind in Prince Rupert ... There's a myriad of these where it's going to be partnerships with First Nations, local communities and B.C. Hydro ... But they can't get going because of Site C.

With files from On the Coast

This interview has been edited for clarity and structure. To hear the complete interview, click on the audio below.