View of the Campbell River substation in September 2017. The substation is being upgraded to keep up with local economic growth, and the two main slope areas have been improved to be better able to withstand earthquakes. BC Hydro photo

Campbell River substation stabilized; Focus turns to electrical, protection and control works

BC Hydro’s Campbell River Substation Upgrade Project is closing in on a new transformer coming into service around March 2018.

The upgraded substation, located at the end of 7th Avenue near downtown, will be able to service the area well into the future and be able to keep up with future economic growth. The upgraded substation site will also be better able to withstand earthquakes.

“The existing electrical grid within Campbell River is having some constraints because of development and growth that has already taken place in Campbell River, particularly to the south,” said BC Hydro spokesperson, Stephen Watson said in a press release. “By adding a third transformer within the substation, and the four distribution circuits that will eventually feed out of it, it will well serve the Campbell River area along with Quadra Island and the Village of Sayward.”

The earthworks part of the project was completed this past summer. The main part of the work was to better stabilize the north and west slopes, that drop off about 15 metres to the lower land area, which were found to be at risk of slumping from an earthquake. Watson says a slope failure could have affected and damaged equipment within the substation, potentially taking it out of service for some time.

“The two main slopes had a lot of poor material and we had to go deep to remove it down to the till for it to be stable, and then bring in proper fill and compact it,” said Watson. “There was also much better drainage put in place.”

That translated to just over 88,000 tonnes of material either removed from the site or brought in, or the equivalent of about 5,200 dump trucks and pups trips.

There were 26 large steel piles drilled into the ground within the substation, including under the new transformer and new control building, as these structures are relatively close to the slope crests. This was to further increase the seismic withstand of the site.

“The earthworks and drainage improvements were a big part of the project, and with that work compete, we are now focused within the substation itself and all the electrical and protection and control works,” said Watson. “We are tracking for two of the four circuits to be in service around March 2018. We are also making system improvements to the two existing transformers and related electrical equipment, and that work will go to October 2018.”

Hydro seed grass and the placements of rock to the outside edge of the safety perimeter fence was completed to neaten up the appearance.

Mayor Andy Adams was pleased to hear the third transformer is getting close to going into service, and of the overall benefit of the approximate $40 million project in keeping the City’s lights on well into the future.

“A big focus has been on the Campbell River hydroelectric system and those large capital projects like the John Hart project, yet it’s also critical that we have a good electricity grid and supply so that the continued growth that we are seeing in our community can continue,” said Adams. “BC Hydro is doing great work in their goal of keeping their infrastructure within our community safe, reliable and ready for future development.”