New transformer now serving downtown Vancouver

Posted by Dag Sharman

A new 176-tonne transformer is now operating inside the Cathedral Square substation in downtown Vancouver. To be clear, this new transformer is an addition, not a replacement. There are now three transformers operating inside the substation, strengthening electricity reliability in the area.

The Cathedral Square substation is underground, which created a challenge for this project. The new transformer is 176 tonnes, 30-feet long, 12-feet wide and 16-feet high, and had to be lowered 80 feet into the ground. That was done over eight hours in the middle of the night of February 1, using a 500-tonne crane.

After installation work and extensive testing, the third transformer began operating fully in early November.

This successful British Columbia Transmission Corporation-led project is welcome news for residents and businesses in a large part of Vancouver's downtown, as the Cathedral Square substation serves about one-third of the entire downtown electrical load. The new transformer makes the already very reliable BC Hydro system even more so. According to Canadian Electrical Association statistics, BC Hydro's customers living in the Vancouver area are less likely to experience power outages than the national average.

The new transformer can't eliminate outages – they are a reality of all electrical systems – but it will contribute to improving reliability for the area. As downtown Vancouver continues to grow, there are now tonnes of reasons residents and businesses will have more reliable power – 176 tonnes to be exact.