The BC Hydro Substation on 7th Avenue is getting a $29.8-million overhaul.

John Hart not the only Hydro project on the go

BC Hydro continues to make progress on the Campbell River Substation Upgrade Project, which will continue through fall of next year

BC Hydro continues to make progress on the Campbell River Substation Upgrade Project, which began this spring and will continue through fall of next year.

The $29.8 million project will allow for increased capacity for future growth, something the existing distribution system is having “constraints” with, according to BC Hydro spokesperson Stephen Watson.

The power provided by the generating station is distributed through the transmission line systems, one of which is in Oyster River, the other being on 7th Avenue near L’École des Deux Mondes Elementary school.

These stations don’t have an “abundance” of capacity to handle the growth expected for the city, Watson says, so a third transformer, along with up to four new feeders or circuits will be added to the two already at the 7th Avenue substation.

“So far on the project, a peak of 21 people have been working at the site, with local subcontractor, suppliers and service companies helping BC Hydro Construction Services complete the work,” Watson says, adding that Hydro has been working closely with the city and communicating with people living near the substation as well as with the nearby school.

Campbell River Mayor Andy Adams says that while the John Hart Generating Station Project is obviously getting the majority of the attention, “it’s the Campbell River substation that provides the electricity to our homes and businesses. This substation capacity improvement project will ensure the Hydro infrastructure that is essential for the sustained projected growth of our community for decades.”

During the planning stages of the work on the substation, geotechnical drilling found that the north slope of the site – filled in decades ago when the original substation was built – could slump downward or fail during an earthquake. If that failure was to happen, Watson says, it would likely impact the substation transformers and electrical equipment and potentially put the substation out of service or partial service for an extended period of time, which is why “significant earthworks” have been happening to shore up the slope so that it can withstand an earthquake.

There are also plans to install piles under the new transformer and control building in the substation to provide further stability. The vast majority of the earthworks component of the seismic upgrade work is scheduled to be complete by the end of November.

“Power reliability is so important in our community,” says protective services coordinator for the Strathcona Regional District, Shaun Koopman. “I am pleased to see BC Hydro taking the right steps to shore up the main substation that services our area so that it can better withstand an earthquake that we know will strike some time in the future.”