July 8, 2024

Chris O’Riley

VANCOUVER ISLANDBC Hydro has announced it will build more than $3 billion in capital projects on Vancouver Island over the next decade to upgrade and expand the electricity grid and provide clean power for homes and businesses in growing communities.

The plan reflects growing demand for electricity across sectors due to population growth and housing construction, increased industrial development, and people and businesses switching from fossil fuels to clean electricity, among other factors.

“In growing regions like Vancouver Island where we are seeing substantial housing, building, transportation and industrial growth, we are embarking on significant upgrades to our electricity system, including investments in our generation plants, new and expanded substation projects as well as major distribution investments to support underground and overhead infrastructure extensions to ensure we can continue to provide reliable and clean electricity to our customers,” said Chris O’Riley, president and CEO, BC Hydro. “We are also making important changes to our customer-connections process to speed up timelines for newly constructed homes and buildings.”

“This significant investment by BC Hydro will support the sustainable growth of communities on southern Vancouver Island. Our fast-expanding region has ambitious housing, economic development and climate targets that this commitment to clean and dependable electricity will directly support. Generations of residents and businesses in Saanich will experience the benefits of this upgraded and expanded infrastructure,” said Dean Murdock, mayor of Saanich.

To meet the growth in Victoria, Saanich, Langford, Colwood and Nanaimo, BC Hydro is investing in several projects as part of its 10-Year Capital Plan, including:

  • building a new substation in the Langford area that will power an additional 40,000 to 70,000 homes and be in service by 2030;
  • replacing end-of-life transmission underground cables that service Victoria, Esquimalt and Saanich, increasing capacity more than 60%, enough to power more than 100,000 additional homes;
  • major distribution investments to increase power-line capacity to support new residential housing and anticipated residential load growth in: Bear Mountain and Langford Heights; Victoria, Oak Bay and Esquimalt; District of Saanich and central Saanich; and North and South Nanaimo.
  • upgrades of transmission capacity to Vancouver Island by replacing old undersea cables with new cables by the Gulf Islands; and
  • seismic upgrade projects to BC Hydro’s three dams within the Campbell River system – John Hart, Strathcona and Ladore – to maintain downstream public safety and to ensure a continuing reliable local supply of energy, with all three projects planned to be in service by 2030.

BC Hydro is also investigating the feasibility of grid-scale batteries on Vancouver Island to provide additional capacity to address anticipated growth and improve reliability in the region.

“With just over 1,000 units currently under construction, these upgrades and expansions are a welcome addition to our existing electrical capacity. These projects support not only our residents but also our businesses, our economic development and our climate goals,” Darlene Rotchford, councillor and acting mayor, Township of Esquimalt.

In north Vancouver Island, work is being undertaken to voltage convert and upgrade the existing system supplying Port Alice, which will provide BC Hydro with more options to restore outages, as well as allow more and larger customers to connect to the system. BC Hydro is also making investments to replace its substation in Woss.

BC Hydro also recently launched a call for power to acquire approximately 3,000 gigawatt hours per year (GWh/y) of clean electricity. This is BC Hydro’s first competitive call for power in more than 15 years and will add 5% to its current supply, and will be the first in a series of calls for power as BC Hydro requires more power to electrify B.C.’s growing economy and reduce pollution.

“Greater Victoria’s business community is at the forefront of climate action leadership and we strongly support work being done to reduce emissions. The projects being undertaken on Vancouver Island add resiliency to our power grid and will ensure our region has sustainable access to clean energy,” said Bruce Williams, CEO, Victoria Chamber of Commerce.

Business Examiner Staff

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