BC Hydro has re-started a project that will significantly increase electricity capacity in northwest B.C. to meet the growing demands of its industrial customers.
The Prince George to Terrace Capacitors project (PGTC), which had been placed on hold in 2016, will boost the capacity of the region’s 450-kilometre transmission system by about 60 per cent, or 500 megawatts, with the addition of three capacitor stations, including one near Burns Lake.
“By using capacitor stations, we’re able to significantly increase the capacity of the existing transmission line in a cost-effective, safe and reliable way,” said Tanya Fish, a spokesperson for BC Hydro.
The existing 500-kilovolt transmission system is reaching its limit and cannot carry more electricity to meet the “significant increased demand,” said Fish.
“We’re anticipating significant growth along the north coast of B.C. due to a number of planned industrial projects that are increasing demand for electricity,” she said, referring to fuel processing and shipping, mining projects and LNG. “In support of the province’s CleanBC climate objectives, we’ve been in discussions with industrial customers in our northwest service area to electrify their operations.”
The decision to re-start the PGTC was made this past summer. BC Hydro began contacting First Nations and local governments to advise them of the re-start of the project in July, said Fish.
The PGTC had been placed on hold due to changes in the region’s expected load growth and BC Hydro system studies showing the project was no longer required, Fish said.
Prior to the project being placed on hold, BC Hydro acquired land for the first two capacitor stations near Vanderhoof and Burns Lake. Land for the capacitor station near Burns Lake is located close to Palling Road, about 15 km northwest of the village.
BC Hydro is still in the planning stages and looking at alternative sites for the third capacitor station, said Fish.
Capacitor stations are fenced outdoor facilities that need to be constructed on flat land, adjacent to or near the existing transmission line, according to BC Hydro. They contain equipment to boost the amount of electricity that a transmission line can carry.
Project construction is expected to start is September 2021 and the in-service date is anticipated to be in the fall of 2025.
“We’ll be able to provide a cost estimate at a later stage as the project unfolds,” added Fish.