BC Hydro replacement project right on track

Staff who presented to city council recently said project to replace transmission line between Terrace and Kitimat is going smoothly

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BC Hydro’s project to replace the transmission line between Terrace and Kitimat and to Rio Tinto is moving along smoothly, according to BC Hydro staff who presented to city council July 18 at a committee of the whole meeting.

Mark Alexander of BC Hydro told council that originally the company was looking at running the new power line as two lines but found that one line will be able to transmit power for all the expected future electricity needs.

Also the new line will run 48 km on the west side of the Kitimat valley because it is a shorter distance than the current line on the east side of the valley, which is 59 km..

That old line, built in the 1970s, needs to be replaced as it has reached the end of its life.

The new line will start at the Skeena substation and go to the Minette station in Kitimat.

Then it travels another 2.5 km to Rio Tinto, and will run alongside where the old line is now.

The old line will be maintained for about six months after the new line is completed and then it will be taken down, said Alexander.

The new line is a 287 kV line but will have the capacity to carry up to 800 kV in order to meet any future needs.

The current line is the same 287 kV, but it can only carry about 300 kV.

The increase would certainly meet the capacity needed by LNG if those projects arise in the future, said Alexander.

In addition to the new line being shorter, it will also have fewer environmentally sensitive areas and will make a smaller impact on the right of way, and will use less property overall. That will mean less construction and lower cost.

And since it won’t be next to another energized line, it will be safer too, he added.

The new power poles will be galvanized steel which will reduce maintenance and will be an H-frame design that’s just under 30 metres high.

The right of way will average about 100 m during construction and be maintained at an average of 44 m afterward.

The new steel structures are also more secure and make the right of way less prone to avalanches, which will provide more reliable power.

Councillor Stacey Tyers asked about the line being maintained after it goes in, saying that she has heard that lines in Jackpine Flats aren’t maintained and, as a result, the power goes out a lot there.

Alexander answered by saying that the old line will continue to be maintained for six months after the new one is built and then the old line and structures will be removed.

Councillor Sean Bujtas asked how many employees would be working on each stage of the project.

The peak workforce will be about 120 during the clearing and access phase, and during line construction, 60 to 70 people will be working on it, said Alexander.

Mayor Carol Leclerc asked about the cost of the project and Alexander said the it is between $100-170 million.

BC Hydro hopes to start clearing in 2017, complete the new line for fall of 2019 and then remove the old lines in 2020 and 2021.