"There haven't been any major upgrades to our bulk transmission system in more than 30 years and this new line is a vital link for the future," said Bill Bennett, Minister of Energy and Mines. "Demand for power continues to grow and BC Hydro needs to be able to meet that demand and transport electricity safely and efficiently from the places like Mica generating station and the WAC Bennett dam, to major load centres. This is just one example of the types of investment BC Hydro is making in the system through its capital plan.
"This line is a significant addition to our system and is one of many large projects and upgrades that are reaching completion," said Jessica McDonald, President and CEO of BC Hydro. "We're making these investments in a prudent and efficient way. BC Hydro has completed more than 550 infrastructure projects between fiscal 2011 and fiscal 2015, and collectively, these projects were delivered more than $71 million under budget."
The new line was built through tough and diverse terrain in B.C.'s southern interior. The line crosses mountains, grasslands, major rivers and highways. BC Hydro awarded the construction contract for the line in 2011 to Flatiron Graham Joint Venture and construction began in the spring of 2012.
The initial in-service date for the line was October 2014. However the contractor faced scheduling pressures during construction and, based on feedback from the contractor, BC Hydro pushed the in-service date to late 2015. The final cost of the line is expected to be $743 million about $18 million higher than BC Hydro's original budget of $725 million.
To help alleviate the scheduling pressures, BC Hydro's own crews built one of the most challenging sections of the line: a 19-kilometre stretch near Hope. Work on that section of the line was completed by BC Hydro crews in July.
BC Hydro is in the midst of its capital plan and must invest, on average, $2.4 billion a year, over the next 10 years in the system. There are hundreds of projects underway in various stages across the province.
In addition to the Interior to Lower Mainland transmission line, BC Hydro is reporting milestones for two other significant capital projects this year:
- The GM Shrum turbine replacement project at the WAC Bennett Dam was completed more than $100 million under budget. It involved refurbishing five generating units at the provinces largest facility, which will allow them to generate more power. The Mica 5 & 6 project will be completed later this year, within budget. BC Hydro is adding two new generating units at Mica. When the facility was built in the 1970s, it was built with four generating units and space for two more to be added in the future. Facts about the new line:
- A 500-kilovolt, 247 kilometre single circuit transmission line.
- Runs from Nicola substation near Merritt to Meridian substation in Coquitlam.
- Project includes new 500-kilovolt series capacitor station at Ruby Creek near Agassiz and line termination work at Nicola and Meridian substations.
- Total number of new transmission structures: 642.