The damaged insulator

Vandal shoots out northwestern B.C. power line insulator

Power outage affected mine and run-of-river hydroelectric projects

Two large companies north of Terrace had their operations disrupted for nearly an entire day late last week after someone shot out a glass insulator on BC Hydro’s Northwest Transmission Line.

Affected was the Red Chris copper mine owned by Imperial Metals which takes power from the line and the Iskut River run-of-river hydroelectric power projects owned by AltaGas which feed power into the line for sale to BC Hydro.

The outage occurred at 10 p.m. Oct. 14 and repair crews flew the line by helicopter the next day, says BC Hydro official Mora Scott.

The damaged insulator, which is made out of hardened glass, was found on a tower east of Bowser Lake, between the Bell 1 and Bell 2 bridges on Hwy37 North more than 300 kilometres north of Terrace.

“Someone with a gun had shot out one of our insulators so the crew had to go back to Terrace where they had to organize themselves and travel back to the site to repair the damage,” said Scott, adding that the power was out for 22 hours.

“We don’t see this often … but obviously it’s really important to remember that electrical equipment is dangerous and people are killed every year and it puts the public and our workers at risk.”

It’s believed the shooter was at ground level, about 26 metres (85 feet) below the insulator on the power line, but how many shots were fired isn’t known, added Scott.

The incident was reported to the closest RCMP detachment which is located in Stewart.

BC Hydro’s Northwest Transmission Line runs 344km north of Terrace and was finished in 2014.

The Red Chris mine is the largest project to date to tie into the line as a source of power and AltaGas of Calgary, which owns three run-of-river hydroelectric projects along the Iskut River, has a multi-year sales deal with BC Hydro.