Planning continues on a sixth turbine for the Revelstoke Dam, even following last week’s announcement by the B.C. government of the construction of the Site C dam.
“In our base plan, Revelstoke 6 would be out in the 2029-2030 time frame,” said Randy Reimann, the director of resource planning for BC Hydro, in an interview with the Times Review last week. “If our expected case isn’t the way world unfolds, it could be needed as early as 2020. We’re working on having it available somewhere in that time frame.”
The Revelstoke Dam was completed in 1984 with space for six turbines but only four were installed at the time. A fifth turbine went into service in 2010.
Meanwhile, two more turbines are being installed at Mica Dam, with an expected in-service date of 2015.
That leaves Revelstoke 6 as the last turbine that can be readily installed in the major Columbia River hydro dams.
The project was identified as being necessary in BC Hydro’s Integrated Resource Plan, which was accepted by the government in November 2013. Last week’s Site C decision doesn’t change that, said Reimann.
“What the plan actually said is with Site C and possibly some gas fired capacity on the north coast to support (liquid natural gas) and the load in the north coast region, we would have enough capacity to take us through to the late 2020s,” he said.
The plan is contingent on a number of factors, including LNG development and conservation measures. Reimann called it “an aspirational target.”
“There’s a number of reasons why our base resource plan may not be sufficient and to deal with those situations we identified two types of resources we wanted to move along and keep them ready for their earliest in-service date depending on how the future unfolds,” he said. “Those two resources are gas-fired generation or Revelstoke 6. Revelstoke 6 is really our main resource we want to look at for contingency purposes.”
The Revelstoke 6 project is currently in the environmental assessment phase. BC Hydro is working on an application for an environmental certificate — a project timeline says it hopes to have it place in 2017.
A core committee consisting of local government, First Nations and other stakeholders has been assembled to help guide the project, though it hasn’t met in several months.
“They’re looking at the project, helping us identity the effects of the project and recommending mitigation measures to address those affects and look at the operation of the sixth unit at Revelstoke Dam,” said Jen Walker-Larsen, a spokesperson for BC Hydro.
Jody Lownds, who is representing the North Columbia Environmental Society on the committee said the NCES’ goal is to make sure the cumulative impacts are being looked at. They were told only the incremental changes of adding a sixth turbine could be studied, “which makes it difficult to try and address some of the more extreme environmental impacts from the dam itself,” she said.
“One thing we keep hoping will be a possibility is for less daily fluctuation in the water level because that creates erosion issues,” Lownds added.
Walker-Larsen said the committee would likely be reconvened in the spring.
According to BC Hydro, Revelstoke 6 is expected to cost $420 million to install and would increase generation capacity by 500 megwatts. The Dam currently generates 2,480 MW when at full power.
“The additional capacity being built into the dam – we don’t have any more water – what it allows us to do is use the water at times we most need the electricity,” said Reimann. “It’s really being used to meet our peak demand.”