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Canada, B.C. agencies agree to assess 1,100-MW Peace River Site C

VANCOUVER, B.C., Canada 10/14/11 (PennWell) -- The Canada and British Columbia governments have initiated a joint environmental assessment of the 1,100-MW Peace River Site C hydroelectric project in British Columbia.

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency and the British Columbia Environmental Assessment Office issued a draft agreement creating a joint environmental review panel process. Province-owned utility BC Hydro submitted a project description report to the agencies in May.

"The environmental assessment for Site C will provide multiple opportunities for consultation and input by the public, communities, aboriginal groups, and stakeholders," BC Hydro Chief Executive Officer Dave Cobb said.

Under the process, BC Hydro is to identify and assess potential environmental, economic, social, cultural, and health effects, and opportunities to provide benefits to the region and the First Nations. Where effects cannot be avoided, the utility is to identify and evaluate mitigation options.

The estimated C$8billion (US$7.8 billion) project is expected to produce electricity at a cost of from C$87 to C$95 (US$85 to US$92.75) per megawatt-hour. It would create up to 35,000 direct and indirect jobs through all stages of development and construction.

Peace River Site C received an unexpected boost in 2009 when the British Columbia Utilities Commission rejected part of BC Hydro's long-term acquisition plan for renewable energy, saying the utility did not sufficiently prove its need for independent power projects. However, the regulator did approve advancing the study of the Peace River Site C hydro project and expansion of the 1,792-MW Mica hydro project.

Site C would be the third hydroelectric project on the Peace River in northeast British Columbia, joining 2,730-MW G.M. Shrum and 694-MW Peace Canyon Dam. Sites A, B, C, D, and E were identified in 1958 as five potential sites for a third dam. In 1976, BC Hydro chose Site C after finding the other sites were not viable.

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