Hydro to upgrade local distribution grid

The Campbell River area has been growing and the local BC Hydro distribution grid that serves the area needs to keep up

BC Hydro will take on another new project in Campbell River.

The announcement was made early this week that the power utility will spend $25 million to increase its supply of electricity to local customers.

Stephen Watson, spokesperson for BC Hydro, said the Campbell River area has been growing and the local BC Hydro distribution grid that serves the area needs to keep up.

“It’s actually become constraining in a few areas because of recent growth,” Watson said. “BC Hydro is planning to make upgrades to the Campbell River Substation and add more circuits for the community. The substation, located off 7th Avenue, will see a third transformer added to the two already there, with up to four new feeders or circuits.”

The Campbell River area is also served by a second substation in Oyster River. The circuits feed out of the substations and along roadways to supply electricity to customers, including on Quadra Island. Each distribution pole carries 25,000 volts of power.

Watson said BC Hydro expects to begin work on the 7th Avenue substation in early 2016 and have the work complete and the new circuits in service in the fall of 2017.

“Two new circuits will be in place by then with the other two circuits to come later,” Watson said. “The increased capacity and four new circuits will serve the wider Campbell River area by off-loading some of the existing circuits that are near capacity and free things up for future community growth in residential and commercial development. It will help foster economic development.”

Across the province, BC Hydro has invested about $6.3 million over the last five years in power line system improvement projects, Watson said. This includes installing equipment on a circuit that can be operated remotely in the event of a power outage. The equipment attempts to re-energize that section of a circuit which has gone down and restore power quickly if a tree branch has fallen onto the lines, caused the fault, but then fallen off.

“Other projects include electricity load transfers or switching from the various circuits,” Watson said. “About $350,000 has been spent on vegetation management along the transmission line system, and about $2 million reinvested into the local transmission system over the last five years.”

Watson said that similar work and investment is planned in the coming years.

“The Campbell River Substation project is just one of a few of the hundreds of BC Hydro capital projects throughout B.C. that, together, make up one of the largest expansions of electrical infrastructure in the province’s history,” Watson said. “In the next 10 years, BC Hydro will invest an average of $1.7 billion a year on the electricity system including upgrades to transmission and distribution systems and dams and generating stations.”

Campbell River is also the beneficiary of a complete upgrade and overhaul to the John Hart Generating Station and in the coming years, will see seismic upgrades to both the John Hart and Strathcona dams. Those projects alone mean BC Hydro will be working in the Campbell River area for the next 20 years.

The announcement of this new substation project comes on the heels of the completion of BC Hydro’s new Campbell River office at Quinsam Crossing. BC Hydro staff moved from its 40-year-old office building on Evergreen Road to the new building this month.