BC Hydro has started a multi-year project to increase the amount of power it can transmit through its 500 kilovolt transmission line from Prince George into northwestern B.C.

The Crown corporation has not identified specific customers for the power other than saying it has requests from mining and liquefied natural gas developers.

Rather than building another major line, BC Hydro is instead building three capacitor stations which contain equipment to boost the amount of electricity it can carry.

Two are now underway, one near Vanderhoof and the other near Burns Lake, with the third one, at BC Hydro’s Skeena Substation south of Terrace to begin in the new year.

BC Hydro says the three-station project and associated works are to be completed in either 2027 or 2028.

It will also be adding a transformer at the Skeena Substation to reduce the power coming from the 500kV line to “voltages suitable for downstream customers”.

The Crown corporation did not indicate whether those are existing or potential customers. BC Hydro first began talking about the project nearly 10 years ago, but then shelved it in 2016, saying there was no longer the demand for its construction. Forecast demand changed in early 2019 leading to the decision to revive construction plans.

While BC Hydro may not be releasing names of customers who will benefit from the capacitor project, it has made improvements to its Minette substation near Kitimat so that it can supply power to the LNG Canada project now under construction. And it is speaking with proponents connected to a planned floating liquefied natural gas facility off of the north coast being promoted by the Nisga’a Lisims Government and various partners. That project would need BC Hydro power.

Power to be fed through the beefed up 500 kilovolt transmission line west of Prince George would come from various BC Hydro hydroelectric projects, including its multi-billion Site C project in the northeast.


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