British Columbia will need little new transmission over next 20 years — BC Hydro

British Columbia will need little new transmission over the next 20 years, despite a forecast 50% increase in demand, according to BC Hydro’s 2012 integrated resource plan (IRP), issued June 4.

Beyond the transmission projects that are currently underway, the document said no inter-regional, high-voltage transmission lines will be required in the next 20 years. One 500-kV line, from Prince George to Terrace, B.C., will need to be reinforced to meet new demand on the north coast, the plan said.

Transmission projects currently committed to and underway must be completed, the IRP said. Those include the Interior-to Lower-Mainland project, the Northwest transmission line project, and seven other projects currently in the permitting, planning, or construction stages.

The IRP said BC Hydro will have to address region-specific transmission needs.

“For example, oil and gas expansion is driving rapid growth in the South Peace area,” and will require additional transmission, the IRP said. Construction of proposed liquefied natural gas facilities on the north coast of the province would increase demand and may also require additional infrastructure

BC Hydro will consider “generation clusters” – particularly of new renewable generation resources – to help meet additional electricity demand. The IRP said it will consider transmission for those generation clusters “during acquisition processes when projects in these cluster regions are being bid.”

The utility is proposing a three-pronged approach to meet the expected 50% demand increase: “conserve more, build more, and reinvest more.” However, many of the specific projects associated with those three categories will take a number of years to complete and bring on-line.

U.S. imports constrained

The utility plans to meet the short-term gap with market purchases, including using the Canadian entitlement under the Columbia River Treaty. However, because of transmission line constraints on its interties with the United States, BC Hydro expects it can count on no more than 500 MW of additional peak capacity from those sources, the IRP said.

Longer-term plans include increasing the energy savings target to 9,800 GWh per year by 2020, and exploring more codes, standards, and conservations options for additional savings beyond that target. The utility also recommended pursuing voluntary conservation programs that encourage industrial, commercial and residential customers to reduce electricity consumption during peak periods.

In addition to conservation, BC Hydro recommended building and reinvesting more, including constructing a third dam on the Peace River, and updating and upgrading existing hydro generating facilities.

The IRP also recommended developing energy procurement options to acquire up to 2,000 GWh from clean energy producers for projects that would come into service in the 2016-2018 time period.

BC Hydro is seeking comments on the 533-page document from the public as well as First Nations, a move a utility spokesperson told TransmissionHub is “typical with BC Hydro’s long-term planning and other utilities in Canada as well.”

A series of open houses will be held in five cities around the province this month, and the utility will also offer a webinar.  Public comments may be submitted via e-mail, on-line comment form, or postal mail.


Feedback received through the consultation process will help shape the final integrated resource plan to be completed by the end of 2012,” the utility said in a statement accompanying the IRP.