Site C hydro project is a technical winner

Re: “Do review on Site C, says joint panel chief,” March 17

As an old power-system planner, I am horrified, but not surprised, to learn that a further review of the merits of the Site C project is in the works.

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From an engineering perspective, the project is a technical winner, largely because the river flow can be controlled to a great extent by the upstream storage at the Bennett or Mica dam. The practice of developing upstream storage followed by further downstream generation is a time-honoured approach. The Columbia River is good example. The U.S. developed the lower reaches. Canada followed suit, gaining payments from the U.S. and eventually developing its own sites. To all intents and purposes, the hydraulic capacity of that river is now fully utilized.

Closer to home, consider the up-Island John Hart project now being redeveloped following about 70 years of operation. The message there is that, once developed, hydro-electric power has an extremely long life. Sure, the initial capital cost might be high, but the reliability of operation and life expectancy more than compensate.

Emma Gilchrist’s commentary offers geothermal power as a saving grace. But how many geothermal projects are in daily operation today? How reliable have they been? How much do they cost per kilowatt of capacity and cents per kilowatt-hour of energy?

Please include the cost of transmission lines to connect to the nearest load centre. It isn’t easy, is it?

G.W Clayton, P.Eng

North Saanich

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