Substation receiving upgrades

BC Hydro has announced there will be upgrades made at the Fernie Substation starting next year.

BC Hydro announced earlier this week that upgrades will be made to the Fernie substation.

Located across from the old train station on Railway Avenue, the current substation has been there since 1970. The last upgrades were undergone 15 years ago and the substation is aging and reaching capacity.

Sally MacDonald, community relations officer for BC Hydro, said the company has purchased a three-quarter acre parcel of land from the city, located next to the current location, to be able to expand the substation.

Along with expansion, the project will include a number of upgrades, such as replacing one of the existing transformers with a larger capacity transformer; adding five new breakers  and a 25 kilovolt feeder; and replacement of existing wood poles with steel structures.

“The upgrades will also modernize the protection and control equipment,” MacDonald said.

BC Hydro met with the City of Fernie for input and will include those ideas into the upgrade design, she said.

“We consulted with the city’s Design Review panel who made suggestions about the aesthetics of the property to make it fit in more appropriately with the city’s downtown look and feel,” she said. “We have made some adjustments to the design of the substation to fit in better with the look of city buildings downtown.”

BC Hydro is planning a stakeholder engagement for 2016, MacDonald said.

“The community will have the opportunity to see what is planned for the substation next year. We are looking forward to sharing more detailed plans and engaging with Fernie residents in the New Year.”

The estimated cost of the project is $21 million, but MacDonald said that amount will be confirmed once BC Hydro has completed the procurement process within the next few months.

The project is due to begin in October 2016 with site clearing.

“The actual ground breaking and construction will begin in March 2017,” MacDonald said. “We’re expecting that the substation will be in service around November 2017 and the project will be complete with landscaping the following spring.”

In an Oct. 8 press release, Fernie mayor Mary Giuliano said she is pleased to see this investment in the city’s key infrastructure.

“Over the next 20 years, Fernie is expected to continue to grow, and more people mean more homes and businesses needing power,” she said. “Electricity is vital to not only our day-to-day lives, but our continued economic growth.”