After a construction effort that took over two years and hundreds of millions of dollars of government financing to finish, BC Hydro has quietly announced the activation of the 344 kilometre Northwest Transmission Line (NTL).
“The Northwest Transmission Line is fully in service now and that happened last week on July 15,” said BC Hydro senior communications specialist Lesley Wood of the 1,092 tower line stretching into the mountains north of Terrace.
The powering up of the NTL was not accomplished by pressing an “on switch” but rather through an incremental, section by section activation that happened over weeks, she said.
“We had to make sure everything is running smoothly, safely and reliably, and at that point it started sending power to the AltaGas project,” said Wood, adding that the activation went “very well”.
Right now the 287-kv line is operating at only a fraction of its capacity, with that single operation, AltaGas’s 195 MW Forrest Kerr run-of-river hydroelectric project located on the Iskut river, drawing power from the line.
“At this point in time AltaGas’s Forrest Kerr project is connected. They are going through their final commissioning for that small hydroelectric project and they need electricity to do their final commissioning,” said Wood. “So they are taking power from it right now and when they finish their commissioning process, in the fairly near future, they will start feeding power back into the grid.”
The next industrial project to hook in, and the only one other than the AltaGas project to have signed a supply contract with BC Hydro to connect to the NTL, will be Imperial Metals’ Red Chris mine.
“We understand that will be some time later this year,” said Wood.
While the many temporary jobs created during the construction phase of the NTL have now come to an end, Woods said that environmental reclamation work is ongoing, and that the BC Environmental Assessment Office requires access roads and other disturbances to be restored to their pre-construction state through planting trees and other measures.
A more formal christening of the recently activated power line is planned for mid-August.