West Kelowna Transmission Project
We're planning to strengthen and reinforce the transmission network delivering clean, reliable electricity to Westbank First Nation, West Kelowna, and Peachland.
We expect to announce a leading alternative in the coming months. We're considering input received through First Nations consultation, stakeholder engagement, and discussions with governments, along with engineering, safety, socio-environmental, and other factors to make our decision.
We look forward to sharing our leading alternative with you and continuing consultation and engagement as we advance the West Kelowna Transmission Project.
About 25,500 customers are served by the Westbank Substation, which is supplied by a single 138-kilovolt transmission line from Nicola Substation near Merritt. The existing 80-kilometre transmission line runs through rugged, remote terrain that's susceptible to wildfires.
We've prioritized the Westbank service area as needing a redundant supply of power because of:
- The large number of customers served by a single transmission line.
- The challenge of restoring power expeditiously on the existing transmission line resulting from its 80-kilometre length, remote location, and rough terrain.
- The risk of destructive forces like wildfires.
We considered four alternatives:
- Alternative 1: Connect Westbank Substation to Vernon Terminal Substation.
- Alternative 2: Connect Westbank Substation to Nicola Substation.
- Alternative 3: Connect Westbank Substation to the FortisBC system.
- Resiliency Alternative
Two of the alternatives have been eliminated from further study:
- Alternative 1, which poses the highest level of safety, environmental, socio-economic, cost, geotechnical and wildfire risk.
- The Resiliency Alternative, which couldn't meet the objectives of the project.
Additional information on Alternatives 2 and 3 is provided below.
Alternative 2: to Nicola Substation
We identified Alternative 2 as the leading alternative in November 2016. This alternative involves building a new transmission line from Nicola Substation to Westbank Substation using a different route than the existing transmission line. After Alternative 2 was identified as the leading alternative, the cost to build a new transmission line along this route became higher than expected. Given this cost increase, it's prudent that we revisit the alternatives and associated cost estimates.
Alternative 3: to FortisBC
Alternative 3 includes building a new transmission line across Okanagan Lake, connecting Westbank Substation to the FortisBC system. We've studied four ways to connect to the FortisBC system:
- Alternative 3a: A transmission line from Westbank Substation to Okanagan Lake, a submarine crossing of Okanagan Lake and a transmission line to FortisBC's DG Bell Substation (Mission-Kelowna area).
- Alternative 3b: Build a new substation in West Kelowna, a submarine crossing of Okanagan Lake, a transmission line to FortisBC's Saucier Substation (downtown Kelowna) and a transmission line from Westbank Substation to the new substation.
- Alternative 3c: A transmission line from Westbank Substation to Okanagan Lake, a submarine crossing of Okanagan Lake and a transmission line to FortisBC's Saucier Substation (downtown Kelowna).
- Alternative 3e: A transmission line from Westbank Substation to Okanagan Lake, a submarine crossing of Okanagan Lake and a transmission line to FortisBC's Recreation Substation (downtown Kelowna).
A fifth alternative (3d) was considered; however, it required costly and complex upgrades on FortisBC's system to meet mandatory transmission planning criteria for the area. Based on this fact, together with FortisBC, we have determined that Alternative 3d is not feasible.
We're working with FortisBC on the remaining alternatives interconnecting to their system in Kelowna and plan to confirm either Alternative 2 or a connection to the FortisBC system in Kelowna as our leading alternative.
The West Kelowna Transmission Project will strengthen and reinforce the transmission network delivering clean, reliable electricity to Westbank First Nation, West Kelowna, Peachland and the north edge of Summerland.
The project will require a Certificate of Public Necessity and Convenience (CPCN) application to be submitted to the B.C. Utilities Commission (BCUC). Information on the CPCN process is available on the BCUC website.
As part of project planning, we've working in collaboration with the Okanagan Nation Alliance to complete environmental and socio-economic studies to investigate archaeological potential, wildlife and wildlife habitat, vegetation, soil characteristics, traffic, and noise. Additional studies are expected as the project advances.
We expect to confirm either Alternative 2 or a connection to the FortisBC system in Kelowna as the leading alternative in the coming months.
Taking the time to thoroughly plan our projects is a key component of our project lifecycle process. This helps us ensure a cost-effective solution that will continue to deliver clean, reliable electricity to local communities and help keep rates low for our customers.
BC Hydro is committed to mutually agreeable consultation with First Nations that have interests in a project area, and/or whose rights, including title, may be affected by the project.
Through a new relationship model based on mutual respect and collaboration called the Enduring Relationship, BC Hydro is committed to working with the syilx Okanagan Nation on projects within Okanagan territory and to ensuring that impacts to Aboriginal rights and/or title are identified and addressed. Specifically, BC Hydro is working with a Project Review Committee comprised of Okanagan communities and led by Westbank First Nation to better understand and address the environmental, cultural, and socioeconomic impacts of the West Kelowna Transmission Project and to make shared decisions about routing.
We've been engaging with our stakeholders, discussing the project with all levels of government, and undertaking various studies and assessments throughout project planning. We'll continue these activities as the project advances.
Once we announce the leading alternative, we'll update this page to provide more detailed information on the leading alternative and hold meetings and open houses in study area communities to discuss and refine the alternative.
We look forward to continuing to work with all interested parties as the project moves forward.
Reports & documents
- Resiliency alternative wildfire risk assessment – October 2019 [PDF, 17.0 MB]
- Communication and consultation summary (August 2018 – July 2019) [PDF, 23.4 MB]
- Open house storyboards – June 2019 [PDF, 9.5 MB]
- Wildfire and geotechnical risk assessments summary [PDF, 272 KB]
If you'd like to learn more about the project, please contact us at:
Phone: 604 623 4472
Toll free: 1 866 647 3334
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