Work is already underway at the Minette Substation. (Photo Gerry Leibel)

Kitimat’s BC Hydro substation receives a massive upgrade

It will cost $82 million to ensure that LNG Canada has enough electricity to produce liquefied natural gas at its facility in Kitimat.

BC Hydro spokesperson Dave Mosure said $58 million of the $82 million price tag for the LNG Canada Interconnection Project will come from BC Hydro, LNG Canada contributing the remaining $24 million.

“LNG Canada requested electrical service from BC Hydro for its facility, which involves transmission service to support the LNG export facility in Kitimat,” said Mosure. “BC Hydro has started the engineering design and construction works and the project is expected to be in service in 2021.”

He said the project to upgrade the power supply to Kitimat’s industrial zone involves installing a new 287-kilovolt double circuit transmission line from BC Hydro’s Minette Substation on Smelter Way to the LNG facility.

The new transmission line will run along an existing right-of-way where a decommissioned overhead line was dismantled in February this year.

The project also provides for system reinforcements and additional electrical equipment at Minette Substation.

“BC Hydro is also working to provide distribution service to support construction-related activities, which includes the worker camp and construction power. Distribution service will run underground to the worker camp,” said Mosure.

He added, however, that service for construction power would run on existing overhead distribution circuits.

“This will not add station capacity but will expand the distribution bus to allow for running distribution feeders out to expand the capacity available in the field,” said Mosure (a distribution bus is a steel structure with an array of switches used to route power out of a substation.)

Mosure said costs for the LNG Canada Interconnection Project were calculated using BC Hydro’s tariffs “as with any other industrial customer.” LNG Canada made its Final Investment Decision (FID) to go ahead with the construction of the facility in Kitimat on October 1, 2018.

BC Hydro scraps plan for new line

Ten days after LNG Canada’s FID BC Hydro confirmed it was scrapping a project to build a new transmission line between Kitimat and Terrace. In 2014, the utility had announced its decision to build a new line, saying the current 287-kilovolt transmission line which runs between the Skeena Substation (near Terrace) and the Minette Substation had reached the end of its life.

BC Hydro had already surveyed a new route down the west side of the Kitimat Valley which, at 48km long, would have been shorter than the existing 59km line which runs down the east side of the valley.

In preparation for construction, BC Hydro had also contracted engineering and environmental studies and had hired local companies to begin preliminary route clearing for the new line, which would have cost in the neighbourhood of $115 million.

Not enough power for Kitimat LNG

In May this year BC Hydro announced that it was reconsidering a plan it had proposed in 2012 to build a new 500kv line linking Williston Substation outside Prince George, to Minette Substation, a distance of over 500km.

This followed news that the existing 287kv line between Skeena Substation in Terrace and Kitimat would not be able to handle the demand for electricity for a proposed second liquefied natural gas project, Kitimat LNG.

BC Hydro’s Kevin Aquino said in May that the proposed Kitimat LNG project would require additional capacity “beyond that which is currently available in the region.”

Should a positive Final Investment Decision be announced, Kitimat LNG wants to use electricity from BC Hydro instead of natural gas to power its equipment to compress and super-cool natural gas for export overseas.

MORE: We don’t have enough power

In using electricity instead of natural gas, Kitimat LNG — a partnership of Chevron and Australian-based Woodside Energy International — is being billed as a way to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Skeena Substation is a regional distribution point for power coming into the area via a 500kv line from the Williston Substation – a variety of lines then branch out from the substation to communities around the region.

Williston Substation is a key BC Hydro facility, serving as a connecting point for power coming from BC Hydro’s existing facilities in the northeast and from Site C when it’s completed.

There’s no indication of when Kitimat LNG might announce that it is proceeding with its project.

– with reporting by Rod Link

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