(File photo/Capital News)

(File photo/Capital News)

BC Hydro draws closer to second power line for West Kelowna and area customers

The only line serving about 23,000 customers threatened by a wildfire last year

BC Hydro has narrowed its options for a second transmission line to serve customers in West Kelowna, Westbank First Nation, and Peachland.

About 23,000 customers are currently served by the Westbank Substation, which is an 80-kilometre long transmission line running through rugged, remote terrain and is susceptible to forest fires and landslides. That line was threatened by the Brenda Creek wildfire last year.

After online public engagement, BC Hydro identified several alternatives for a second line. One option is connecting to the Nicola Substation, about 70 kilometres northwest of West Kelowna, and the others involve connecting to the FortisBC grid in Kelowna.

The Nicola Substation connection was identified as the leading alternative in November 2016. However, the updated cost estimate to build a new transmission line has increased and is now higher than expected. BC Hydro is likely to review cost estimates and revisit that option.

A connection to FortisBC involves three alternatives, all involving a new transmission line across Okanagan Lake. Option A would connect to FortisBC’s substation in the Mission to the Westbank Substation, Option B involves building a new substation in West Kelowna with a submarine crossing of the lake and connecting to the FortisBC Saucier Substation in downtown Kelowna, and Option C would connect the Saucier Substation to the Westbank Substation.

BC Hydro indicates it plans to confirm either the Nicola Substation or one of the FortisBC options as its leading alternative soon.

The company states the West Kelowna Transmission Project will strengthen and reinforce the transmission network, delivering reliable electricity to Westbank First Nation, West Kelowna, and Peachland.

Read More: Westside officials lobbying for more power lines after wildfire threatens only source

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