BC Hydro has confirmed that it has stopped planning for a second power-line into the North Thompson Valley.
“Planning for the North Thompson Transmission Line Project is on hold for now and the decision to resume planning for this new transmission line will depend on whether large industrial loads materialize in this region and fulfill the requirements of BC Hydro’s process, approved by the BC Utilities Commission (BCUC), which protects the interests of ratepayers, assists the customer and meets regulatory requirements,” said Jennifer Walker-Larsen, stakeholder engagement advisor for BC Hydro.
A second transmission line would be required to operate Yellowhead Mining’s proposed copper-gold-silver mine at Harper Creek near Vavenby. The additional power would also be useful for other developments proposed for the Barriere-to-McBride corridor, including Imperial Metals’ proposed lead-zinc mine at Ruddock Creek and a proposed high elevation ski resort near Valemount.
“In order to protect ratepayers from risk we must justify to our regulator, the BCUC, all expenditures for new infrastructure such as transmission lines, and show evidence that the load is confirmed, new infrastructure is indeed required, and the proper process is followed,” said Walker-Larsen.
According to the utility company spokesperson, there is sufficient capacity in the North Thompson transmission system to serve current load and normal load growth over the next 20 years. She said that BC Hydro will continue to monitor the electricity requirements for this region as part of their ongoing load forecasting activities.
“We plan and build for confirmed and normal growth but cannot build for large loads which are not confirmed or have not met BC Hydro’s requirements for connecting new loads,” she said.
Walker-Larsen said that, should any potential large industrial loads be confirmed in the region, BC Hydro will determine if there is sufficient capacity in the existing system or if upgrades to the transmission system are required to serve the new load. She noted that BC Hydro has an obligation to serve all customers who come to it if they meet requirements established by BC Utilities Commission.
Walker-Larsen said people should check out BC Hydro’s webpage on industrial connections at www.bchydro.com/accounts-billing/new-electrical-connections/industrial-connections.html.
“This not about Yellowhead (Mining) only. It’s about the Valley’s future,” said Clearwater Mayor John Harwood during discussions about the planning stoppage during the Feb. 5 town council meeting. The mayor predicted that other development projects, such as Ruddock Creek, would not happen if BC Hydro did not go ahead with reinforcing the electrical power available.
Councillor Barry Banford noted that the average power outage in Valemount is eight hours while in McBride it is 20 hours. Both are located near the end of the single power-line up the Valley.
Premier Christy Clark indicated her support for increased electrical power for the North Thompson Valley in her address given during last fall’s Union of BC Municipalities convention.
“We believe in Yellowhead Mines in the North Thompson and they will get their power,” she said.
BC Hydro earlier indicated it was looking at two possibilities for a second power-line into the Valley. One option would be a line from near 100 Mile House to Clearwater. The second option would be a line from Mica Dam to Vavenby.