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Vancouver Island to get $3 billion in power grid upgrades

About eight per cent of the $36 billion BC Hydro plans to spend over 10 years earmarked for the Island
Spending includes new substation, like this one in Victoria, for Langford. ADRIAN LAM, TIMES COLONIST

Vancouver Island will get $3 billion worth of electrical infrastructure upgrades over the next 10 years, including new substations and upgrades to hydro-electric dams in Cambell River.

The $3 billion is about eight per cent of BC Hydro’s $36-billion capital spending plan, most of which is expected to go towards transmission and distribution infrastructure.

Some of the upgrades on Vancouver Island, like a new substation in Langford, is to accommodate population growth. The B.C. government notes that Victoria, Saanich, Langford, Colwood and Nanaimo are all experiencing significant growth.

"In growing regions like Vancouver Island where we are seeing substantial housing, building, transportation and industrial growth, we are embarking on significant upgrades to our electricity system, including investments in our generation plants, new and expanded substation projects as well as major distribution investments to support underground and overhead infrastructure extensions to ensure we can continue to provide reliable and clean electricity to our customers," BC Hydro CEO Chris O'Riley said in a press release.

"We are also making important changes to our customer-connections process to speed up timelines for newly constructed homes and buildings."

Vancouver Island provides some of its own power with hydro-electric dams in the Campbell River area. Three of them – John Hart, Strathcona and Ladore – will get seismic upgrades.

Those dams provide only a fraction of the power used on the island, however. Most of the power comes the mainland via sub-sea cables. Those cables will be replaced with new ones. New underground cables will also be built for Victoria, Esquimalt and Saanich.

Langford will be getting a new substation that will boost BC Hydro’s capacity to serve up to 70,000 additional homes.

"Langford is one of the fastest-growing communities in B.C., and these projects ensure that both new residents and lifelong locals have access to reliable and clean electricity,” said MLA Ravi Parmar (NDP-Langford-Juan De Fuca). “The new Langford area substation will power an additional 40,000 to 70,000 homes, ensuring the Westshore region gets the energy it needs to support its growth."

BC Hydro said it is also exploring the potential for grid-scale batteries on Vancouver Island.

BC Hydro is forecasting B.C.’s power demand will increase by at least 15 per cent between now and 2030.

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