BC Hydro completes C$714 million expansion, modernization of Mica hydroelectric facility

BC Hydro has completed a C$714 million project in which the utility added two new generating units at the Mica hydroelectric project on the Columbia River in British Columbia, Canada. The additional units increase the facility’s total installed capacity by 1,000 MW, to about 2,805 MW.

Part of an eight-year modernization and expansion program for Mica, which was originally commissioned with four units in 1970, Unit No. 5 began generating in early 2015 and Unit No. 6 was commissioned in December.

The program also included a $238 million replacement project of Mica’s aging switchgear equipment, completed in August 2014, and the construction of a new series capacitor station on the transmission line from Mica.

BC Hydro is making investments to secure our province’s future electricity needs,” said Bill Bennett, minister of Energy and Mines.

He said an important part of securing energy involved BC Hydro examining its existing facilities to determine if they could be upgraded to add even more power to the system.

“The new units at Mica give us access to more clean power for decades,” Bennett said.

To date, construction activities for the Mica expansion and upgrade projects have created about 1,000 full-time jobs for tradespeople in the region, according to the company.

BC Hydro is in the midst of a major capital plan to upgrade its generation, transmission and distribution infrastructure in B.C.

BC Hydro completed construction of the new, high-voltage, Interior to Lower Mainland transmission line in November. The line is the first 500-kV transmission line added to the system in 30 years. It will bring power from facilities like Mica and Revelstoke to B.C.’s largest population centers to meet growing demand.

Jessica McDonald, BC Hydro president and chief executive officer, said, “Our Mica facility will continue to play an important role in meeting increased winter demand. The new high-voltage, Interior to Lower Mainland transmission line is bringing the power generated at Mica to our high-load centers on the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island.”

In 2010, BC Hydro added a unit at its Revelstoke hydroelectric facility, also on the Columbia River, that increased its total installed capacity to 2,480 MW. The company said it has plans to add an additional 500 MW unit in the coming years.

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Gregory B. Poindexter formerly was an associate editor for HydroWorld.com.

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