BC Hydro still trying to move ahead with power upgrade in Fort Nelson

BC Hydro is still working to upgrade the power generating station in Fort Nelson.

The upgrade is part of the 2008 long term acquisition plan that has been filed with the BC Utilities Commission.  With the increased industrial activity and households switching to electric heat, electricity demand in Fort Nelson has increased by more than 50% in recent years.

Hydro expects power demand to increase by another 50 to 200% by 2013.  Earlier this year some media outlets reported that Fort Nelson was in dire need of more electricity, however BC Hydro spokesperson Dag Sharman insisted the situation is "not dire".

Sharman says that the concerns identified in the report are only speculative at this point, and that Hydro is being proactive in looking ahead to address potential needs in the future. [asset|aid=271|format=mp3player|formatter=asset_bonus|title=Dag Sharman – Long Timelines_1_Pub.mp3]

In September of 2008 then current Fort Nelson Mayor Chris Morey also assured residents that all local infrastructure—including hydro—is currently adequate, and that the city is currently working with the future in mind. [asset|aid=272|format=mp3player|formatter=asset_bonus|title=Chris Morey – Future_1_Pub.mp3]

Morey added that the city hopes to host another Horn River stakeholder symposium next year to continue addressing these issues as they arise.

The current 47 megawatt (MW) wintertime capacity of BC Hydro’s Fort Nelson Generating Station is not sufficient to meet that expected demand. Therefore, BC Hydro is proposing to upgrade the generating capacity of the facility and is currently seeking authorization from the BCUC to move forward with one of two proposed options in the spring of 2009:

·         Option 1 would increase facility generation output by 8.6 MW at a cost of approximately $90.5 million.
·         Option 2 would increase facility generation output by 24.7 MW at a cost of approximately $140.1 million.

BC Hydro’s current preference is for Option 2, the larger capacity increase. Either option could be in service by November 2011 and both include an upgrade from a simple cycle gas turbine to a more efficient and environmentally friendly combined cycle gas turbine. Neither option would increase the existing generating plant footprint — the amount of land currently required at the plant site.

Consultations with Fort Nelson and area communities will continue while BC Hydro awaits regulatory approval.  Hydro will also still work on preliminary design and analysis of the two upgrade options.

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