Stories & Features

Crazy weather leads to record breaking year

Fallen power pole during a storm in Abbotsford

Dressing for seasonal temperatures wasn't easy this past year

British Columbians living in different regions of the province usually have an idea of the weather that each season will bring. But the past 12 months have been another story.

From a record early spring in 2016 to a cool spring season in 2017, to record inflows on Vancouver Island and the longest cold snap in 30 years, unprecedented conditions over the past year have broken records for our operations across B.C.

Here's a look back at a year of wild weather.

Frozen bridge at Ruskin Dam

Cold snap breaks big generating records

You weren't imagining it; this winter's cold snap was the longest in nearly 30 years. Colder temperatures meant increased heating needs and power demand across the province, resulting in new records for:

  • Total hydroelectric power generated by our system in both December and January
  • Highest hourly peak hourly load demand on January 3
  • Daily generation at our Columbia River and Peace River systems
WAC Bennett Dam

Sufficient storage, and then some

Early snowmelt and lots of precipitation meant most of our reservoirs began to fill almost a month and half early in the spring of 2016. In fact, we set a record for total water storage in both our Peace River and Columbia River systems combined during the spring.

We turned on our biggest equipment. All of it.

The Peace River and Columbia River systems are home to our biggest generators and this year we needed all of them. For the first time ever, all units at our biggest dams were in service and running simultaneously. That includes:

  • Ten generators at WAC Bennett Dam and four generators at Peace Canyon Dam on the Peace River
  • Six generators at Mica Dam, including two new ones which came online in 2015, and five generators at Revelstoke Dam on the Columbia River

Spilling: rare and impressive

Record continuous rainfall in October and November meant increased flooding risk for Campbell River and Puntledge River. Even with turbines discharging at full speed, we still needed to move more water through the dams. We released enough water through our John Hart Dam to tie the 1990 record for total discharge, resulting in a spectacular display of water spilling over Elk Falls. Total water flow downstream of the dam approached 600 m3/s. That's fast enough to fill an Olympic sized swimming pool in four seconds.