Columbia Valley Transmission Project update

  • Jan. 17, 2011 8:00 p.m.

The Columbia Valley Transmission (CVT) Project is finalizing the design of the transmission line and the substation work. A CVT Contractor Information Session will be held on January 20th and project construction is expected to being in February.

The CVT Project Team say the project will meet the area’s long-term electricity needs by building a 230 kilovolt (kV) transmission line from Invermere to a new substation west of Golden. The project includes a new 69 kV transmission line, which will bring power into the town of Golden, and modifications to the existing substations in Golden, Invermere and Cranbrook.

The CVT project — which has an estimated cost of $155 million — received approval from the BC Utilities Commission in September 2010. Since then the Project Team has focused on the detailed engineering design for the transmission lines and substation construction work, the alignment for the two lines, securing necessary permits from other agencies, preparing the construction Environment Management Plan and working with public to ensure concerns are addressed.

“Right now, we’re finalizing the design of the transmission line and the substation work and preparing documents for the bidding process,” said Judy Dobrowolski, Stakeholder Relations lead for the project. “Construction is expected to begin in February with tree clearing and access construction work, starting at the site of the Kicking Horse Substation.”

This will be followed by right-of-way clearing and access construction for the first few kilometers of the transmission line, starting southwest of Nicholson to the Kicking Horse Substation site. The 230 kilovolt transmission line will be 112 km long.

Dobrowolski explained that the majority of construction is taking place on Crown land and private property away from communities. Construction activities in the town of Golden will be limited to the site of the Golden Substation and to the construction of the 69 kV transmission line that runs from the new Kicking Horse Substation to the existing Golden Substation.

“Our first concern is for the safety of employees, contractors and the public,” said Dobrowolski. “The contractor will restrict public access around all active work sites and provide traffic control as required. We are asking the public to follow any related instructions from work crews. If there are any road closures, we will provide advance notice to the public.”

All major construction work will be completed and the project will be running by the end of October 2012, although there may be some follow-up work and site restoration work that will continue beyond until March 2013.

In a recent project update newsletter, the Project Team reassured the public that the project is not related to any IPP projects in the area (which was a common rumour due to the project’s close timing with Selkirk Power’s IPP plans) and that there are no plans to extend the new transmission line to an IPP generation facility.

Early in the project, BC Hydro considered building a new transmission line from a local generation facility to Golden, but it was determined that there were no facilities that met both the electricity requirements and the in-service date. Hydroelectric, biomass and geothermal generation were examined. If, though, a geothermal power facility is ever built in the region, the Project Team says that the infrastructure from the CVT project will enable the electricity from such a power facility to be delivered to communities in the area.

A CVT Contractor Information Session will be held on Thursday, January 20th from 6 to 8 pm at the Golden Seniors Centre.

The session is an opportunity for all of the different contractors interested in bidding on CVT project business opportunities to find out more about the project, planned procurement initiatives and their timing. There may also be an opportunity to explore subcontractor opportunities and exchange business information with other attendees.

There are no shortlisted main contractors at this stage and no prior vetting by BC Hydro is required. The large construction firms who might become general contractors for the various components of the project are responsible for ensuring they would retain qualified subcontractors.

As for opportunities for local contractors, Dobrowolski said that it depends on the contractor’s interest, availability, capacity, areas of expertise and project fit.

“Looking from a broader perspective,” she said, “this project should generate opportunities in construction work, supply of construction material, various support and service areas directly to the contractors engaged by BC Hydro and indirectly to businesses within the surrounding communities.”

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