“What we are hearing from customers is that there is a lot of growth potential.”    

That’s from BC Hydro President and CEO Chris O’Riley as the crown corporation embarks on a 36 billion dollar investment for community and regional infrastructure projects within the next decade.

Among them is a plan to twin the 500,000-volt hydro transmission line from Prince George to Terrace. The project includes an upgrade to install three capacitor stations to add 500 megawatts and boost capacity by 60 per cent is already underway.

 

Minister of Energy and Mines Josie Osborne (left), with BC Hydro President Chris O’Riley during BC Natural Resources Forum in PG. Photo supplied by Brendan Pawliw, MyPGNow.com staff

Given the strong feedback from customers, stakeholders and Indigenous communities along the Highway 16 corridor, O’Riley stated at the BC Natural Resources Forum in Prince George yesterday (Wednesday), it didn’t take much convincing to get the ball rolling.

“It’s worth doing given the corridor. There are some tremendous resources to be developed along the way there – there are port facilities and expansion that are under consideration, it’s really a national corridor for Canada

“Given the port (of Prince Rupert) and the access to Asia, we think it is worth making that investment. As I said, we desire to do that as a partnership with First Nations – we are proposing a joint ownership model with First Nations and they seem quite keen on that so we are trying to make that happen.”

O’Riley believes that once the transmission line is twinned, it will likely open up the floodgates for smaller communities to launch their own projects.

“What we are hearing from customers is that there is a lot of growth potential. We have a lot of customers there already and the potential for more. I think it is an exciting time for that part of the province.”

“I think what we saw from the expression of interest (at least year’s Natural Resources Forum) is interest in projects down the corridor including further on into Prince Rupert and Kitimat and north into Terrace – there is a lot of potential development, which is a big positive for communities along the way.”

However, O’Riley noted even with the transmission line upgrades from PG to Terrace on the horizon, there are still some logistical challenges that need to be sorted out regarding Fortescue’s 2-billion dollar green hydrogen plant, that is being proposed in Prince George.

Currently, the crown corporation, provincial government and Fortescue are in discussions to bring this project to the finish line.

He stated more work needs to be done to make the hydrogen plant a reality.

“It’s a lot of electricity. We need to work with the customer and try and find ways that we can make that happen. I do not want to pre-judge that work today – I think we need to let that work happen.”

The Fortescue plant will require 1,000 mega-watts of clean electricity in order to run

The BC Natural Resources Forum enters its final day tomorrow (Thursday), wrapping up late in the afternoon.

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