B.C. Hydro’s scheduled upgrading of electrical service to Merritt will prevent outages, support economic development and tie into an independent power project, TNRD was told Thursday.
Andrew Leonard, senior project manager with Hydro, said a new 138-kilovolt transmission line and an upgraded substation in Merritt should be completed by 2014.
“That will provide enough power to Merritt for the next 30 years,” Leonard said at the TNRD’s regular meeting.
The existing line and station are within five per cent of exceeding capacity, he said.
Hydro opted for a new route, known as alternative 1B, in February. Using the existing route, 1A, would have involved upgrading the existing 37-kilometre, 69-kilovolt line to 138 kilovolts. A second alternative would have required purchase of a large amount of private land.
“Negotiating for 1A or alternative two, there just wasn’t time for that.”
The right-of-way for 1B was cleared in the 1980s, when a 230-kilovolt line was planned but never built, Leonard said. The line runs from the Highland substation north of the city and parallels the Coquihalla Highway into town.
Merritt Mayor Susan Roline endorses the project, though it is not without a share of controversy. The Crown corporation met Monday with area residents, who have concerns about views, potential impacts on property values and exposure to electromagnetic frequencies from the line.
Leonard told the TRND board that Hydro is working with residents to minimize view impacts and exposure to EMF.
Power outages affecting the entire city are not unheard of. These will only increase as electrical demand grows, Leonard said.
“If that line goes out, the whole city of Merritt is out of power. It’s only happened two or three times in the last 20 years.”
Leonard said once the new line is completed, Merritt Green Energy, an independent power project using biomass fuel from the Tolko mill, will be tied in. That will provide additional energy security, he noted.
The upgrading is projected to cost in the $40-million range.