West Kelowna Transmission Project
Taking the time to thoroughly plan our projects is a key component of our project lifecycle process
Since the leading alternative was identified in 2016, the updated cost estimate to build the new transmission line is higher than expected.
It's prudent that we review the cost estimate and look at all alternatives to continue to deliver clean, reliable electricity to West Kelowna and Peachland. That's why we're adding a new project alternative that looks to improve the resiliency of the existing line and minimize the risk of outages from forest fires and geotechnical events.
By taking the time to do this work, we'll ensure a cost-effective solution that will continue to deliver clean, reliable electricity to local communities and help keep rates low for our rate payers.
About 22,000 customers are served by the Westbank Substation and a single 138 kilovolt transmission line. The existing transmission line is 80 km long and runs through rugged, remote terrain susceptible to forest fires and landslides.
We've prioritized the West Kelowna area as needing a reliable supply of power because of:
- The large number of customers served by a single transmission line.
- The challenge of restoring power on the existing transmission line resulting from its 80-kilometre length, remote location, and rough terrain.
- The risk of destructive forces like forest fires and landslides.
Alternative 2 was identified as the leading alternative in November 2016. This alternative involves building a new transmission line from Nicola Substation to Westbank Substation.
We identified the leading alternative after studying three alternatives for a year-and-a-half.
Alternative 1: To Vernon Terminal Substation
Build a new transmission line on the west side of Okanagan Lake, connecting Westbank Substation to the Vernon Terminal Substation.
Alternative 2: To Nicola Substation (leading alternative)
Build a new transmission line from Nicola Substation to Westbank Substation using a different route than the existing transmission line.
Alternative 3: To FortisBC
Build a new transmission line, including a submarine cable across Okanagan Lake, connecting Westbank Substation to the FortisBC system.
Alternative 2 was identified as the leading alternative for the following reasons:
- It's been assessed as more favourable than Alternative 1: to Vernon Terminal Substation and Alternative 3: to FortisBC System from an overall safety, environmental, socio-economic and cost perspective.
- It poses low geotechnical risk which can be reduced by routing and design of the new line. It is unlikely that an event (e.g. landslide) would impact the existing line and the new line at the same time.
- It has the second lowest fire risk which can be reduced by the use of steel poles, routing, design, adequate separation from the existing line and vegetation management.
The Resiliency Alternative was introduced in March 2019. Work on this new alternative looks to improve the resiliency of the existing transmission line that serves West Kelowna and Peachland to minimize the risk of outages resulting from forest fires, and geotechnical events.
The West Kelowna Transmission Project will strengthen and reinforce the transmission network delivering clean, reliable electricity to West Kelowna and Peachland.
We're still in the early stages of this project. Consultation is ongoing. Milestone project activities and timing will be updated once a decision is made regarding the preferred alternative.
We originally planned to make a decision on the preferred alternative in early 2019. We now expect the decision timeline will extend to early 2020 at the earliest to ensure all required data has been gathered to support the decision and subsequent application to the BC Utilities Commission.
Since February 2015, our work has included area planning and desktop studies, wildfire and geotechnical risk assessments, as well as ongoing First Nations consultation, stakeholder engagement, and discussions with all levels of government.
We will continue working with First Nations and engaging with our stakeholders throughout the planning and implementation of the project.
Reports & documents
Project update (March 19, 2019) [PDF, 247 KB]
Fall 2018 project newsletter [PDF, 3.3 MB]
Wildfire and geotechnical risk assessments summary [PDF, 272 KB]
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