Power line plan revealed

BC Hydro to build one, and possibly two, power lines from Terrace to Kitimat

BC Hydro says it’s going to replace its aging 287kv transmission line between Terrace and Kitimat with at least one and possibly two lines of the same size.

In a presentation to Terrace city council today, BC Hydro officials said the project replaces one which would have featured a new 500kv line between Prince George and Terrace and two 500kv lines between Terrace and Kitimat.

But that plan, which was based on BC Hydro being called upon to supply large amounts of power to potential liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants at Kitimat, was abandoned last year because the plants are now to use natural gas to produce the power to super cool natural gas into liquid form for export overseas.

BC Hydro officials say the existing 287kv line, built in the early 1970s, from its Skeena Substation, located south of Terrace, to Kitimat is well past its prime and no longer viable to maintain.

The same is true for the provincial crown corporation’s 287kv line from its Minette Substation to the Rio Tinto Alcan smelter and this line will be replaced as well.

“Based on the anticipated new industrial customer connections in the Kitimat area and the associated load growth, a 287 kV circuit will be capable of supplying the necessary power. There is no identified need to build a 500 kV line, however, we are continuing to study the load growth in the area,” reads a BC Hydro position paper being presented to city council.

And having two 287kv lines sharing the power load between Terrace and Kitimat will increase reliability should something happen to one of them.

“BC Hydro will be assessing whether this enhanced reliability is required,” the BC Hydro document continues and has pegged this summer to reach a decision.

The crown corporation also says it wants the project finished by late 2018 or early 2019, ahead of when planned LNG plants in Kitimat are expected to open. The new plan to build at least one new line does away with an earlier proposition to upgrade the existing 287kv line.

“Our original plan was to upgrade the line so it could carry more power, as a short-term measure, while we decided on options for replacement. We’ve now decided to bypass that step,” said Lesley Wood from BC Hydro.

In addition to deciding how many lines to build, BC Hydro has to decide the route or routes to be taken.

It can parallel the existing line’s route down the east side of the valley between Terrace and Kitimat or carve out a new route on the west side of the valley. BC Hydro officials say they’ll be speaking with local governments, First Nations and other affected parties.


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