News Release

System Maintenance and Life Extension programs

BC Hydro delivers electricity to its customers through a comprehensive network of transmission and distribution lines, substations, rights-of-way, steel towers and utility poles. Significant investments are needed annually to maintain this vast system and extend the life of assets to ensure a safe, reliable supply of electricity to customers.

Program details

This year priority will be placed on:

  • Safety and detailed condition assessment inspections and preventive maintenance
  • Substation upgrades, including security improvements, roof replacements, aging circuit breaker replacements, transformers, switchgear, protection and other improvements and maintenance to ensure the safety and security of these essential facilities
  • Replace obsolete and aging telecom infrastructure
  • Replacing aging and rotting wood pole structures
  • Seismic upgrades to structures and facilities
  • Replacing end-of-life conductors, insulators, switches and other essential hardware
  • Painting steel towers to control corrosion and extend the life of the structures
  • Replacing aging underground cables and overhead lines
  • Maintaining right-of-way access roads, trails, gates, etc.
  • Ongoing vegetation control and maintenance on rights-of-way. Trees falling on lines is the most common cause of outages

Benefits and opportunities

These annual cost-effective programs help sustain a reliable electrical system while minimizing other risks. The key drivers for proactive asset maintenance programs are:

  • Safety: maintaining asset condition minimizes risk to personnel and the public
  • Reliability: minimizing unplanned equipment outages on the system
  • Asset health: ongoing maintenance helps extend the life of assets
  • Financial: prudent maintenance helps defer the high cost of replacement and refurbishment
  • Environmental: helps BC Hydro comply with evolving environmental regulations
  • Risk management: maintenance helps minimize the effects of such external risks as seismic events, extreme weather, forest fires and vandalism

Quick facts

Timeline: 2011

Estimated cost: $458 million for 2011-12

The BC Hydro system includes:

  • over 18,000 km of transmission lines, including 436 km of submarine cables
  • 57,278 km of distribution lines
  • 892,633 utility poles and steel towers
  • 272,572 individual transformers
  • 292 substations