On Nov. 23, BC Hydro hosted MLA Bill Bennett, Regional District East Kootenay and Ktunaxa representatives at the Winsor Substation upgrade project in Elko. The substation is receiving needed upgrades to the tune of $15 million. This will be the first substantial upgrade the facility has received since its was initially built in 1970.
“We are lucky here in B.C., our former leaders back 50 60 years ago invested in hydroelectric projects and built this huge distribution and transmission system. But it’s getting older, and it’s not as reliable as it once was,” said Bennett.
He continued on to say the substation upgrades are needed in the area.
“[It’s] necessary to retain one of the most reliable electricity systems in the world right here in B.C., that’s not an exaggeration. We have the third lowest residential rates in North America here in B.C. In order for it to stay that way, you have to invest.”
The station is currently running at maximum capacity and is only able to supply six megavolt ampere (MVA). The rebuild project includes a new 25 MVA transformer in addition to upgrades to the switchyard and protection and control equipment. Furthermore, the station’s wooden poles will be replaced with steel structures. These upgrades are aimed to increase the number of customers that the station currently provides power to from the current capacity of 1,700 to an upgraded 3,100. BC Hydro predicts this will meet the demand for at least the next 30 years with the current growth rates and electricity demand predictions of the area.
The $15 million expected cost is a part of a province-wide decade-long capital investment plan for BC Hydro, which will see $2.4 billion spent each year. Fernie’s recent $21 million substation completion is a part of the almost 200 million invested by BC Hydro in the East Kootenay.
The project is being completed in partnership with the Ktunaxa Nation Council. A representative of Ktunaxa, Marion Eunson, said they are pleased to be working with BC Hydro on this project.
“Building our capacity and our skills, when opportunities become available B.C. construction services will ask us to provide additional manpower providing they have the skill set. They are excited and looking to do more. We have young people coming up looking to be trades people and looking for those very opportunities. Hopefully in the future we will have the opportunity to work on some more of these projects within our territory,” she said.