Provincial government and BC Hydro bigwigs were in Campbell River Friday morning to officially begin construction on the $1 billion project to rebuild the John Hart Generating Station with a 2.1 kilometre tunnel and an underground power plant. Pictured here (from) left are Comox Valley MLA Don McRae

Let the digging begin

BC Hydro embarks on $1 billion project in Campbell River on the John Hart Generating Station

The three old surge towers dominated the background as a trio of today’s energy “heavyweights” gave their official blessing to the beginning of a $1-billion project to reconstruct the John Hart Generating Station.

“This is the best way to replace an old facility that needs to be replaced,” Energy and Mines Minster Bill Bennett said last Friday. “Frankly, I’ve seen bigger dams, but what you are doing here is quite unique.”

Two of the three surge towers will go – the one remaining for navigation and communication equipment – and that will be all that’s remaining of the once-highly visible generating system.

In an ambitious plan, carefully construed by international experts, the entire 2.1 kilometre pipeline and 132-megawatt generating station is all going underground.

“Trust me when I say we want to build a first-class facility that will serve B.C. for many, many years. We intend to do that, “ said Alfred Hanna, project designer for SNC-Lavalin.

Also on hand for the official start was the new annointed president and CEO of BC Hydro, Jessica McDonald.

“I can’t think of a better way to cap off my first week,” she told the gathering. “It’s incredible it (John Hart) has run for 67 years providing clean, safe and reliable energy.”

Now, she added, it’s time to reinvest.

Tunnelling will begin this fall and the project is expected to last five years.