Hydro responds to column on Burrard Thermal closure

The Editor,

Re. “Shutting PoMo’s Burrard Thermal makes no sense” (Opinion, The Tri-City News, Dec. 13).

I would like to offer some additional context around BC Hydro’s decision to stop generating electricity at Burrard Thermal generating station by 2016. Since Burrard was built in the 1960s, it has been an important part of BC Hydro’s system. Over the years, we made upgrades to its fuel and emissions systems to allow it to operate with the lowest possible impact on nearby communities. But in the last 10 years, its role has been increasingly limited and, in the last three years, it has produced less than 60 gigawatt hours in a year — equivalent to the annual demand of 5,500 homes.

While Burrard Thermal currently plays an emergency backup role, it would require significant investment to maintain this capability in the long-term. BC Hydro has three key projects underway to improve the capacity and reliability of our system: two new 500-megawatt-generating units on the Columbia River, a fifth 500-kilovolt transmission line from the Interior to the Lower Mainland, and a third transformer at Meridian Substation in Coquitlam. These projects will allow BC Hydro to better respond to emergencies in the Lower Mainland without relying on generation at Burrard.

Once the new Interior-to-Lower Mainland transmission line is in service, we will have five 500-kilovolt transmission lines coming into the Lower Mainland from within B.C. We plan the system to be able to meet the highest loads on the coldest day of the year with four B.C. transmission lines.

With five lines, we will be able meet the needs of the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island on the coldest day of the year with one line out of service. We also have two more 500-kilovolt lines coming up from the U.S. as standby, which we don’t count on at all for planning.

With the improved reliability and redundancy in our system by 2016 and our continued focus on maintaining competitive rates, the cost of retaining Burrard’s generating capability in the future is too great for the limited benefit it would provide.


Chris O’Riley, BC Hydro



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