BC Hydro has applied to the BC Environmental Assessment Office for an Environmental Assessment Certificate to install a sixth generating unit at the Revelstoke dam.
In a statement, the utility said it expects electricity demand will increase by almost 40 per cent over the next 20 years. The new unit will add 500 megawatts of capacity to BC Hydro’s electricity system and will help meet peak demand periods and continue to provide reliable power on the coldest, darkest days of the year. During a cold snap in January, a new record for power consumption was set, breaking a record that was in place for more than a decade.
The Revelstoke Unit 6 project will see the addition of a new generating unit to an existing, empty bay in the Revelstoke powerhouse. The project will also build a new capacitor station 19 kilometres west of Summerland needed to deliver the additional power to the utility’s grid. Originally designed to house six generating units, only four were installed when the facility was constructed. BC Hydro added a fifth generating unit that began operating in 2010.
Revelstoke Unit 6 and Site C are both needed to avoid a significant capacity deficit within 10 years. If demand grows as currently forecast, Revelstoke Unit 6 will be needed in 2026 to cover a capacity deficit during major maintenance work at Mica dam. Mica dam is aging and work is required on four generating units. Starting in 2026, the units will be out of service one at a time for 12 to 18 months, reducing Mica’s capacity by 410 megawatts for up to six years. For contingency, BC Hydro is pursuing regulatory approval so it could be in-service as early as 2021 in case more capacity is needed sooner.
The project is estimated to cost up to $582 million (based on the earliest in-service date of 2021). It is expected to create 436 person-years of employment and provide more than $110 million of direct and indirect benefits to BC.
BC Hydro worked closely with the Ktunaxa, Okanagan Nation, and Secwepemc on the application. Hydro has been engaging with First Nations, government and community members over the past three years about the project.
“We’re excited to be moving this important project forward,” Hydro’s Deputy CEO Chris Riley said in the statement. “Not only does Revelstoke Unit 6 ensure that power is there for our customers during the winter season when electricity use in B.C. reaches its peak, it reflects our evolving relationships with area First Nations. This is the first time that BC Hydro has partnered with First Nations on the preparation of our application for an Environmental Assessment Certificate.”
A decision to issue an Environmental Assessment Certificate is expected in the fall..