Electricity building boom to continue in 2019

The Peace River region will continue to see a construction boom related to electricity in 2019.

BC Hydro will spend roughly $1 billion next year on the Site C dam project and close to $300 million on a new transmission project that will bring additional power from the dam to the oil and gas fields of Northeast B.C.

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Between now and 2030, industrial and transportation sectors in B.C. will be forced to undergo a dramatic shift to more electricity and lower-carbon fuels under B.C.’s new climate and energy plan, called CleanBC.

Planning for that transition by government, the oil and gas sector, the Parkland Fuel Corp.refinery in Burnaby, BC Hydro and FortisBC will need to start in 2019, said David Austin, a lawyer specializing in energy for Stirling LLP.

“What I would say is 2019 is going to be the year of the planner because everybody has to now look at what the objectives of CleanBC are,” he said. “If we’re to meet the objectives for 2030, the planning has to occur very quickly.”

He said BC Hydro is going to have to update its load forecasts in light of the additional power that will be needed to electrify the oil and gas sector and industry. And FortisBC is going to need to start planning for how it will source all the new renewable natural gas that it will need to meet new targets of 15% renewable gas content.

A linchpin for the CleanBC plan will be the Site C dam and new transmission projects, like the Peace Region Electricity Supply (PRES) project.

In 2018, 3,746 workers were employed on the $10.7-billion dam project. The workforce is expected to grow even more than that in 2019.

Clearing for the new PRES line began in 2018. Construction on the new $289 million transmission line will begin in 2019, with an in-service date of 2021.

The project includes two parallel transmission lines running from the Site C dam near Fort St. John to the Groundbirch area 30 kilometres east of Chetwynd. It will supply industry, mostly the oil and gas sector, with additional supplies of electricity.

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