BC Hydro will not continue with a second transmission line project for West Kelowna, despite an announcement made in 2015 by former B.C. premier Christy Clark that the project would proceed. (File photo)

West Kelowna transmission line delays frustrating for council

Plans to twin existing transmission line from Merritt appear to be too costly

City councillors in West Kelowna voiced their frustration to BC Hydro officials on Tuesday night after it was revealed a proposed plan to build a secondary transmission line to West Kelowna continues to change.

At the meeting, BC Hydro stakeholder relations manager Rachelle Trent informed council that a decision to twin an existing transmission line between Merritt and West Kelowna was no longer the most feasible option.

Instead, she said the provincial agency recently completed a new six-month feasibility study to look at ways it could upgrade the existing line instead of building a new one from Merritt.

“The West Kelowna transmission project is in BC Hydro’s current capital plan and continues to move forward. Both new transmission line alternatives (building a second transmission line) and a resiliency alternative (increasing the resilience of the current line) are on the table,” wrote Dag Sharman, community relations manager for BC Hydro.

He said BC Hydro is also looking at whether it is feasible to build a secondary transmission line into West Kelowna from other areas, including a new transmission line on the west side of Okanagan Lake, connecting Westbank to Vernon, a transmission line connecting Westbank to Nicola and/or a new transmission line across Okanagan Lake, connecting Westbank to the FortisBC system.

“BC Hydro understands that redundancy is a priority for the communities and we want to confirm that building a new, second transmission line is being considered,” wrote Sharman.

“Since the leading alternative was identified in 2016, the cost estimate to build the new transmission line has increased. It’s prudent that we review the cost estimate and relook at all alternatives available to us to ensure we make the decision that will ensure we continue to deliver clean, reliable electricity to the West Kelowna and Peachland areas while keeping rates low for our customers.”

READ MORE: Westside to finally get second electricity transmission line

West Kelowna city councillor Stephen Johnston said the delays have been frustrating.

“This project has been a conversation with the Central Okanagan Regional District since 2007,” said Johnston.

“To get through this whole process since 2015, and then throw it all back on the table and say ‘Yeah, we’re actually going to look at this whole resiliency thing’ four years after the project was initiated, one can’t help but think were just being monkeyed around.”

As part of the possible improvements, Trent said culverts would be built around existing transmission poles in grasslands along the line to help prevent them from catching on fire in dry conditions.

Improving access roads around the line in the event of an emergency and improving the line’s drainage from ice and wind were other proposed improvements.

After the announcement, councillor Doug Findlater said improving access roads around the line would’t fix the problem in the event of an emergency.

“Many of our equipment failures have been due to wildfire. These incidents have been very local and high in the mountains.”

“During these instances, BC Hydro officials have driven on little access roads in the middle of the night trying to find these failures.

“They couldn’t find them.”

Councilor Jason Friesen said more effort needed to be made by hydro officials to solve the problem.

“We have one line and we have safety issues,” said Friesen.

“I don’t want to hear that you have our best interests on this project, because you don’t.

“We have patients that are on oxygen tanks that last for two hours. We have elderly people that are lying in beds that can’t afford to get cold or that can’t afford to get pneumonia or they’ll die.”

Sharman said the Crown corporation will make a final decision on how to advance the energy project next year.


@connortrembley
connor.trembley@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Soccer legend Bob Lenarduzzi to speak about dementia in Kelowna

Lenarduzzi will speak at the inaugural Breakfast to Remember on Mar. 10

Kelowna RCMP arrest alleged impaired driver

The driver is facing potential charges after power pole collision

West Kelowna Warriors host Trail Smoke Eaters

The Warriors are coming from a Saturday loss against the Vernon Vipers

UBCO announces new top boss for Okanagan campus

Lesley Cormack will start in the position this summer

Nine West Kelowna athletes to go to B.C. Winter Games

The athletes will compete in biathlon and cross country ski

Kelowna’s Family YMCA opens doors on Family Day

The entire day was free for the community

RCMP report woman arrested after ramming police cruiser

Suspect wanted for crimes allegedly committed in Kelowna, Salmon Arm and 100 Mile House

New highway proposed between Alberta and B.C.

The route would connect Red Deer to Kamloops

Wet’suwet’en and B.C. government have been talking Aboriginal title for a year

Coastal GasLink says it has agreements with all 20 elected First Nations councils along the 670-kilometre route

Trudeau tightlipped on plan to end protests ‘quickly and peacefully’

The prime minister, who cancelled a two-day trip to Barbados this week to deal with the crisis at home

B.C. budget expected to stay the course as economic growth moderates

Finance minister said ICBC costs have affected budget

Canadian standards for coronavirus protection to be reviewed, health agency says

The protocols set out how health workers should protect themselves and their patients

South Okanagan mountain bore racist name for a half century

Nkawala Mountain was initially named in connection with the deaths of two black men.

Monday marks one-year anniversary of man missing from Langley

42-year-old B.C. man, Searl Smith, was last seen leaving Langley Memorial Hospital on Feb. 17, 2019

Most Read