By Matthew Robinson and Tyler Harbottle
BC Hydro’s plan to renew its aging hydroelectric infrastructure will cost billions of dollars, involve years of construction and produce little additional energy in return.
In February, the crown corporation asked regulators at the B.C. Utilities Corporation to green light a bundle of nearly $6 billion in projects. Planned or contemplated upgrades to just twelve of BC Hydro’s generation facilities come in at $4.5 billion, with a total increase in overall output of only 1,600 megawatts.
Newly appointed B.C. Energy Minister Rich Coleman recently pushed BC Hydro’s proposal back across the table. He asked the public utility to rethink its request.
It is uncertain at this time what Hydro would strike from its schedule of projects, if anything, but their are plenty to chose from. More than 90 per cent of the added 1,600 MW would come from $1 billion in upgrades to just two existing high output facilities.
The remaining $5 billion would go to a slew of projects meant to repair or maintain low output facilities like the 80 year-old Ruskin dam and powerhouse in Mission, B.C., monitor residential and commercial energy consumption, and upgrade energy transmission and distribution facilities.
BC Hydro is the largest energy provider in the province, with a roster of 30 hydroelectric facilities that range in generation capacity from Spillimacheen’s mere 4 megawatts to G.M. Shrum’s mammoth 2700 MW.
The map below shows BC Hydro facilities. The red pins show facilities due to be upgraded, showing where the money is going and what B.C. residents can expect to receive for it.
View BC Hydro: Generation Facilities in a larger map