BC Hydro outlines power plant plans for next 10 years

BC Hydro’s capital plan, which outlines the investments BC Hydro is making in the province’s electrical system over a 10-year period, includes several new and replacement generating facilities.

BC Hydro is forecasting capital expenditures, on average, of C$1.7bn per year over the next 10 years. The capital will be used to refurbish, upgrade, expand and add to its system of dams and also its generation, transmission and distribution assets.

BC Hydro on Nov. 26 released its latest integrated resource plan (IRP) and accompanying documents. Those documents offered details on generating projects completed and planned.

Recently completed generating capital projects include:

  • Revelstoke Unit 5: Addition of a fifth generating unit at Revelstoke, adding 495 MW of additional capacity to the system. Project needed to ensure enough power on peak consumption days in British Columbia – mostly in winter months. In-service date: December 2010.
  • Stave Falls spillway gates upgrade: The facility was built in 1911 and the spillway gates have been in place since 1923. The project will replace obsolete gates with a new design to increase reliability and ensure flood discharge gates can operate in the event of an earthquake or extreme flood. In-service date: March 2013.
  • Seymour Arm series capacitor: Upgrades to capacitor station to allow the system to deliver additional power to the grid generated at Mica. In-service date: Nov. 2013.

The upcoming power plant projects are:

  • Mica – upgrades to Units 5 and 6: Installation of two new generating units to add 1,000 MW of generation capacity to the system. Target in-service date: 2014, 2015.
  • Ruskin dam and powerhouse redevelopment: In-service since 1930, upgrades to existing dam and water intakes, the powerhouse, generating units and switchyard to improve seismic performance and protect fish and wildlife. Target in-service date: 2017.
  • Gordon M. Shrum generating station – rehabilitation of Units 1 to 5: Replacement of five 1960s turbines to add 177 gigawatt hours annually of electricity. Target in-service date: 2015.
  • John Hart generating station replacement project: Operating since 1947, six-unit, 126-MW generating station will be replaced. Target in-service date: 2018.

As the largest electric utility in British Columbia, BC Hydro operates an integrated system with 31 hydroelectric facilities and three thermal generating plants, totaling about 12,000 MW of installed capacity. The hydro facilities provide over 95% of the total electricity generated. BC Hydro’s own generation is complemented by additional electricity purchased from independent power producers in the province to meet customers’ annual needs.

Among the IRP’s recommended actions is to explore natural gas-fired generation for the north coast. That includes working with industry to explore natural gas supply options on the north coast to enhance transmission reliability and to meet the expected load.

Another recommended action is to explore clean or renewable energy supply options and be prepared to advance a procurement process to acquire energy from clean power projects, as required to meet liquefied natural gas (LNG) needs that exceed existing and committed supply.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.