BC Hydro is now confronted with a dramatic load growth in this region and as a result has a growing list of local area power generation stories.
Among them is the Fort St. John Substation Transformer Upgrade Project, one of the hundreds of capital projects underway or under consideration.
Hydro projections show that electricity demand will increase by about 17 per cent by 2024 in this region, and by province wide by 40 per cent over the next two decades.
Thus the crown utility will invest an average of $2.4 billion a year over the next 10 years on upgrades and additions to its power generating stations and transmission systems.
Currently, a $296-million project is underway in the South Peace to upgrade distribution in the Groundbirch area, east of Dawson Creek.
Crews started stringing the power lines on the Dawson Creek and Chetwynd Area Transmission Project late last month, and Hydro is now reviewing options to get more electricity to that line.
To that end, the Peace Regional Electrical Supply Project (PRES) is being studied, and spokesperson Leslie Wood says while most the route options would plug into the WAC Bennett Dam, two of the 11 under consideration would connect directly into the Site C dam.
“There’s a number of ways that we can build this project, and most of our emphasis has been on looking at alternatives that tie in to the GM Shrum facility, either new transmission lines coming from GM Shrum, or coming from new substations that we would build on lines that already come from GM Shrum,” said Wood.
“We’ve got about nine different alternatives in that area that we’re looking at.”
Wood continued: “When approvals came through for Site C, it behooved us to look and see is there some way with Site C going ahead that we could build the PRES project, the new transmission lines, from Site C down to the Dawson-Groundbirch area.”
The shortest of the route alternatives is about 55 kilometres, with several around 80, and the longest at about 105.
This is one of several tentative Site C power source spin-off plans, which also include using the reservoir of the third dam on the Peace as a possible new Fort St. John water supply source.