Cost of new BC Hydro line revised upward

The cost of BC Hydro’s Northwest Transmission Line (NTL), a new 287-kV line that will tie the northwestern portion of the province into the electrical grid, will be at least C$36m more than the utility’s previous highest estimate.

“The NTL costs previously quoted were the planning level estimate range, between C$364m and $525m [US$368.8m and $531.8m, respectively],” Lesley Wood of BC Hydro’s stakeholder relations told TransmissionHub on April 16. “We have refined the cost number to C$561m [US$568.4m].”

The NTL will run approximately 344 kilometers (214 miles) from an existing substation near Terrace, B.C., about 200 kilometers (124 miles) southeast of Ketchikan, Alaska, to a new substation near Bob Quinn Lake, about 200 kilometers (124 miles) due east of Sitka, Alaska.

The cost estimate was revised, “over the last number of months, as we have concluded procurement and contract negotiations and finalized key aspects of the project, including regulatory requirements for fish and wildlife compensation,” Wood said.

Currently, some communities in the northwest portion of the province without access to the electrical grid obtain their electricity from diesel generators. The NTL will change that.

BC Hydro’s project website said the NTL “will be an economic catalyst for the region – electrifying an area of the province currently not part of the grid and enabling the development of mines, power projects and other resource projects that will help fuel B.C.’s economy.”

Right of way clearing started in January, and construction of the structures and lines will begin during the 2012 construction season. The utility said that, at 344 kilometers, the line is the longest new transmission line in its capital plan.

According to several BC Hydro documents, the NTL is estimated to create up to 840 direct jobs during the three years of construction. Those documents also cite a 2008 report from the Mining Association of B.C., which estimated the NTL has the potential to “attract C$15bn [US$15.2bn] in new investment and create more than 10,000 jobs over the next few decades.”

Construction is expected to be completed in 2014.