Fire burns transmission line from 2,730-MW GM Shrum hydro plant in Canada

BC Hydro reports that a wildfire burning in the Peace region has damaged a 138,000-volt transmission line running from its 2,730-MW GM Shrum hydro plant.

As of this morning, BC Hydro reported that a helicopter patrol of the transmission line revealed the fire had burnt through 16 transmission structures. About 2,800 customers lost power at about 7 p.m. Monday.

The line runs from GM Shrum, on the Peace River, to the Fort St. John substation. BC Hydro crews are manually reconfiguring power lines in the area to switch affected customers to different circuits.

In other news, the Vancouver Sun reported last week that BC Hydro will be borrowing funds to pay the $852 million in mandatory annual dividend payments it owes to the government over the next three fiscal years.

The newspaper said Energy Minister Bill Bennett admitted this practice is unsustainable and the payments will begin to be reduced by $100 million a year in 2018 until they are eliminated. The government uses this money “to reduce what it has to borrow for its other provincial capital projects, such as highways, schools and hospitals,” the newspaper says.

The current formula calls for 85% of BC Hydro’s net income to be returned to the government in dividends. This practice began in 1992, with nearly $6 billion paid over the years.

The utility recently completed the 1,000-MW expansion of its 2,805-MW Mica facility and just last week awarded a C$470 million contract for six turbines, generators and associated equipment for its 1,100-MW Site C project.

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Elizabeth Ingram is content director for the Hydro Review website and HYDROVISION International. She has more than 17 years of experience with the hydroelectric power industry. Follow her on Twitter @ElizabethIngra4 .

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