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Project Overview

The proposed John Hart Generating Station Replacement Project will help ensure the continued supply of reliable, cost-effective and clean electricity on Vancouver Island.

BC Hydro’s John Hart Generating Station Replacement Project

BC continues to grow and so does the demand for electricity. As part of BC Hydro’s regeneration of its key capital assets, the John Hart Generating Station Replacement Project will ensure the continued supply of safe and reliable power on Vancouver Island.

The Campbell River dams and generating stations have provided safe and reliable power on Vancouver Island for 66 years. And it’s not always about power generation as these facilities have provided flood risk management, in addition to benefits for fish habitat and reservoir recreation. John Hart’s power generation was the catalyst for Campbell River’s growth and is part of its legacy.

With decades of knowledge along with today’s innovation and technology, BC Hydro is about to embark on a project that will transform the John Hart hydroelectric facilities. The time has come to have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to provide an enhanced hydroelectric power generation legacy for Campbell River and the province.

The John Hart facility has been operating since 1947. There are three key reasons why BC Hydro is proposing the John Hart Generating Station Replacement Project:

  • Safety. There are seismic risk to the pipelines and generating station – the facility may not withstand a moderate earthquake;

  • Reliability. To have long term power reliability at the John Hart Generating Station – the current six 21 MW units are in poor condition and although designed to a capacity of 126 MW, are currently rated at 118 MW and declining; and
  • Environment. The ongoing environmental risk and consequence to fish from a potential reduction in river flow – 95% of the lower Campbell River comes out of the generating station; should the station be forced out of service the river flows will be reduced and may impact salmon through de-watering habitat or stranding.

Since 2001, BC Hydro has completed a number of upgrades and contingencies to help prevent environmental incidents from unplanned river flow reductions. This has ranged from installing multiple power sources to the John Hart Dam Intake Gates, protection and control upgrades, having more units online than required so that available units can quickly increase water discharges should a unit be forced out of service. In addition, electricians are placed at John Hart 24/7 to respond to events that may lead to a forced river flow reduction.

BC Hydro reviewed a number of possible project alternatives, including deferral, rehabilitation, replacement, and decommissioning. By weighing the financial, environmental and social considerations of these options, facility replacement was approved by our Board of Directors in February 2012. A key part of these approval processes is the continued consultation with First Nations. BC Hydro continues to engage government agencies and stakeholders.

The estimated cost of the project is approx. $1 Billion. The project scope is to replace the three 1.8 km long pipelines with a 2.1 km tunnel (6.5 metres to 8 metres in diameter), and construct a replacement generating station beside the existing station, a new water intake at the John Hart Spillway Dam, and a new water bypass facility. The existing station will continue to operate during the construction phase, and then transfer operations to the new facility.

All project regulatory processes and procurement have been initiated. The goal is to have all regulatory approvals by spring 2013, and announce the procurement award in summer 2013. Project construction may then begin in summer 2013. BC Hydro is working towards having the first replacement generating unit in-service by 2017.
BC Hydro forecasts a very preliminary estimate of about 2,000 person years of work during the construction period or about 400 person years of work each year over five years. The size of the workforce and the work requirements will not only change from year to year, but also during the year. Year two of construction is expected to see the highest level of activity at nearly 500 person years of work. The overall schedule will be developed by the Project Company that’s awarded the work through the procurement process.

As is common with projects of this size, BC Hydro has already been investing in the community before construction begins. This ranges from all the baseline studies for the upcoming environmental assessment, to First Nations education and training courses, to the Chamber of Commerce’s major projects web portal site that will be released this fall.

BC Hydro, Campbell River and District Chamber of Commerce, Vancouver Island Construction Association and Vancouver Island Economic Alliance have been collaborating to provide good two-way communication on BC Hydro’s procurement strategy and potential economic opportunities. This has resulted in this web portal site to cover all aspects of the economic awareness and opportunities of the John Hart project. It provides the forum for businesses and suppliers to register within a database.