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Site C earthfill dam is complete: bring on the water

Site C hydroelectric project in northern B.C. passes major milestone

What’s it like to stand at the base of an earthfill dam more than a kilometre long, half a kilometre wide at the base, 20 storeys high, and made of some sixteen million cubic metres of sand, clay, and rock?

“Just a year ago, it was only half the height, and you could still see the river valley on the other side,” says Matt Drown, BC Hydro’s project director responsible for the main civil works on the Site C Clean Energy Project. “Now it’s like a mountain – all you see is sky.”

We’ve reached a major milestone with the completion of Site C’s earthfill dam, the third hydroelectric dam on the Peace River. Located just southwest of Fort St. John, construction of the dam began in 2021 and was designed to withstand a major (one in 10,000 year) earthquake.

Completion of the earthfill dam is one of the essential milestones required before filling the Site C reservoir. As there are still a number of key project areas to be done – including the approach channel, spillway gates and powerhouse intake gates – filling of the reservoir will only begin once all that work is complete.

Filling the reservoir is expected to take about two to four months.

Construction on the Site C project began in July 2015 and remains on track to have all six generating units in service by 2025. Once complete, Site C will provide the equivalent amount of energy needed to reliably power about 450,000 homes, or 1.7 million electric vehicles per year. It will serve as a vital cog in our electrification plan, which will help B.C. homes and businesses switch from fossil fuel to clean electricity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the

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