Hydro rate increase to go pay for capital improvements

For many people the switching on of a light or the television is something that is not even given a second thought. But where that power comes from and how it eventually arrives to your home is no small feat. It certainly becomes evident how important electricity is when power goes out as a result of a wind storm.

For many people the switching on of a light or the television is something that is not even given a second thought. But where that power comes from and how it eventually arrives to your home is no small feat. It certainly becomes evident how important electricity is when power goes out as a result of a wind storm.

BC Hydro’s goal is to provide safe, reliable power, with minimal social and environmental impacts, in a way that maintains our low competitive rates. This is a very difficult balance to achieve yet one we are trying to accomplish. BC Hydro would like to provide its customers from the Comox Valley to Campbell River, and the surrounding communities, with what it is doing to keep your lights on. This ranges from power supply, to substations, to power line system improvement projects. All of this prefaced with facilities that were largely built in the 1940’s and 1950’s; it is time for regeneration.

The Puntledge River and Campbell River hydroelectric facilities combined can easily generate enough power to supply the immediate region.  Surplus power is sent South Island and North Island. For the oldest of these facilities, the 126 MW John Hart Generating Station, built in 1947, its time has come for replacement. For seismic and age concerns, and environmental benefit, BC Hydro is working on the John Hart Generating Station Replacement Project that could begin as early as late 2012 and be in-service around 2016/2017. The current scope of the project, estimated at $1.35 billion, is to replace the three 1.8 km pipelines with a tunnel and build a replacement generating station beside the existing station. The project will allow continued reliable power supply to the region, and a 10% increase in power generating capacity using the same amount of water.

Transmission lines deliver the hydroelectric power supply to substations around the region.  BC Hydro is about to construct a new substation south of Courtenay near Buckley Bay. This project will allow BC Hydro to keep up with load growth and provide better power reliability in the area, including Denman and Hornby. Construction will likely begin next year and is targeted for completion by 2014. The project budget is around $26 million.For the many circuits that come out of our substations to eventually deliver electricity to your home or business, for 2011, BC Hydro is planning on $3 M in power line system improvement projects. This ranges from the $1.5 million improvement project on Denman Island, to a $175,000 improvement project on Quadra Island, to a $500,000 project in Gold River. Additional funds are also being earmarked for hazard tree removals to maintain power reliability. These types of improvement projects will continue in 2012 and beyond.

All of this then leads to BC Hydro’s Rate Revenue Application that was filed on March 1. It proposes rate increases of 9.73 per cent per year for each of the next three years, subject to BC Utilities Commission approval. Customers from Comox to Campbell River and surrounding areas can now see the rationale for these increases given the major funds going to projects in our area. These projects will also bring significant economic development opportunities during construction.

For more information on these capital projects please contact me at 250-755-4795 or steve.watson@bchydro.com

Stephen Watson

BC Hydro