An energy advocate in northeastern B.C. is raising red flags about the cost of the proposed Site C hydroelectric dam.

Rick Koechl, of the Peace Environment and Safety Trustees Society, says megawatt for megawatt, the proposed BC Hydro project isn't worth taxpayers' money.

The project would see a third dam and hydroelectric generating station built on the Peace River in northeast B.C. The energy would primarily be used to power several proposed liquified natural gas export facilities.

BC Hydro estimates it will cost $7.9 billion to build, a jump of almost $5 billion from its estimate five years ago. The project is currently in the first stage of an environmental review.

Koechl says natural gas should be used to run LNG facilities instead of hydro-electricity and he compares the cost of Site C with the Shepard Energy Project, a natural gas powered generator in Alberta.

While the two projects produce similar amounts of energy, “the Shepard Energy Facility was coming in at $1.3 billion, in comparison to $7.9 billion, which is almost six times cheaper," he says.

The Shepard facility also outperforms Site C in areas besides economics, according to Koechl. While the Shepard facility will be ready in two years, Koechl says it will be at least ten years before Site C is completed.

Site C will also be much larger, he says, with a footprint of up to 25,000 acres compared to the Shepard facility’s 60 acres.

The Site C dam will require the flooding of hundreds of hectares of land and is opposed by several First Nations and other residents in the Peace River region.

"I find this quite appalling, actually. Given the fact that the cost, the time issues, and the destructive nature of this dam, does not make sense. This could be done with a whole lot less energy," says Koechl.

Site C is a key component of BC Hydro’s plan to meet the province’s growing electricity needs.

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