BC Hydro says it is considering plans to scrap the building of a new transmission line between Kitimat and Terrace and instead refurbish the existing line.
The announcement was made on Monday morning, January 8, on BC Hydro’s website and by BC Hydro Mora Scott in an email to the Sentinel.
The announcement comes following a decision in 2017 to postpone the construction of the new line in order for BC Hydro to conduct a worker safety review of the design of the transmission line.
“While we were conducting that review, we confirmed that the forecast cost of building the new line continued to increase from the original estimate,” said Scott. “As a result of these changes, we decided it would be prudent to look at other alternatives for meeting current and future demand in the area.”
Scott said the company is “exploring the alternative of refurbishing the existing 287-kilovolt transmission line” which runs between the Skeena substation (near Terrace) and Minette substation (near Kitimat).
She added that refurbishment of the existing line could safely meet current and future electricity demand at a lower cost than building the new line, keeping rates lower BC Hydro customers.
“This potential change in project scope and construction delay will have no impact on the reliable supply of electricity to our customers in the area,” said Scott.
BC Hydro initially surveyed a new route down the west side of the Kitimat Valley which, at 48km long, would have been shorter than the existing 59km line which runs down the east side of the valley.
In preparation for construction, BC Hydro contracted engineering and environmental studies and also hired local companies to begin preliminary route clearing.
At last reporting, BC Hydro indicated the new line would have cost in the neighbourhood of $115 million.
Scott stressed that the existing transmission line would be maintained until the refurbishment begins so that existing customers would “continue to receive clean and reliable power”.
“BC Hydro believes we would be capable of meeting the current future load requirements in the area with the refurbished line at a lower cost than building a new line. If the load requirements increase even further in the future, a new line could still be required in addition to the refurbished line.”
She said the utility provider is planning to place the permitting process for the new line on hold for a few months to allow BC Hydro to further assess the refurbishment alternative and future electricity demand.