Construction begins on John Hart project: largest hydroelectric project in decades
CAMPBELL RIVER – Bill Bennett, Minister of Energy and Mines and Minister Responsible for Core Review, helped kick off construction on the John Hart Generating Station Replacement project. The $1 billion upgrade is the largest infrastructure project undertaken by BC Hydro since the 1980s and will take five years to complete.
Key reasons for the project:
- Safety: the existing generating station and wood stave penstocks that carry water to the powerhouse may not withstand a low to moderate earthquake.
- Reliability: the six generating units are in poor condition and their capacity is declining. Two units have been in-service since 1947, two since 1949 and two since 1953.
- Environment: if the generating station shuts down and reduces the flow of the river, there would be impacts to important fish habitat downstream.
Construction will peak at about 360 jobs in 2016. Preparatory work started in the spring of 2013 and included road, parking lot and trail realignment and investigative drilling. This month, construction crews are beginning to remove trees and excavate the site to get it ready for tunnelling in the fall for new underground penstocks that will lead to a new generating station.
BC Hydro will continue to operate the existing generating station during construction. InPower BC won the contract through a procurement process, to design and build the John Hart project and has been working closely with BC Hydro since November 2013.
BC Hydro has been providing clean, reliable power to British Columbians for more than 50 years while maintaining among the lowest rates in North America. BC Hydro is a provincial Crown corporation that serves 1.9 million customers and invests in the electrical system and in energy conservation to deliver a safe and reliable supply of electricity for today's customers and for generations to come.
Bill Bennett, Minister of Energy and Mines and Minister Responsible for Core Review
"The John Hart facility is 67 years old and is an example of the type of investment required in B.C.'s electrical system to ensure BC Hydro can deliver safe, reliable power today and for decades to come. The 10-year rate plan for BC Hydro provides certainty to British Columbians that our growing population will continue to be served, while ensuring that BC Hydro can make the investments in the system it needs to in a cost-effective way."
Jessica McDonald, President and CEO, BC Hydro
"This is a significant project for BC Hydro and for the Campbell River community and it will help provide reliable service to Vancouver Island for decades to come. We have worked with First Nations and the local community to earn their support for the renewal of this important asset. The new facility features an innovative P3 model and design that will make it stronger seismically, more reliable and will also better protect fish habitat downstream."
Alfred Hanna, Senior Vice-President, Hydro Division, SNC-Lavalin
"We are excited to have this fascinating project underway and we are up to the challenge. This is a major undertaking and we look forward to working with BC Hydro and the Campbell River community in making the John Hart replacement a success."
Quick Facts about John Hart Dam
- The John Hart facility has been generating power since 1947.
- The estimated cost of the project is up to $1.093 billion dollars. It will include:
- construction of a replacement water intake at the John Hart spillway dam,
- replacement of three 1.8-kilometre long penstocks with a 2.1-kilometre long tunnel, and
- construction of a new generating station and water bypass facility. The new generating station will be underground and further up the site – not directly beside the river.
- John Hart currently generates enough power to supply 74,000 homes annually. This will increase to 80,000 once the project is completed.
- The current capacity is 121 megawatts from its original capacity of 126 megawatts. This will increase to 132.2 megawatts, because the new turbines and generating units will be more efficient in turning the same water flow into electricity throughout the year.
Connect with the Province of B.C. at: www.gov.bc.ca/connect
Ministry of Energy and Mines and Responsible for Core Review
250 952 0628
BC Hydro Media Relations
604 928 6468