As long as there aren't lengthy delays from forest fires this summer, progress on the Upper Lillooet Hydro Project should be on target for two phases of completion in 2017.
Colleen Giroux-Schmidt, Innergex senior director of government regulatory affairs, said construction is well underway, with completion of the majority of the infrastructure to be completed by November this year. But with all eyes on the massive fire in Fort McMurray, Alta., everyone is watchful of what could happen here, which would affect the dates.
Forest fires last summer encroached on the Innergex sites, causing delays.
"We were evacuated when the forest fires occurred last year," said Giroux-Schmidt. "Mother Nature does what she does — and we work very closely with the province to make sure we're keeping everybody safe."
Giroux-Schmidt said last year's forest-fire crews were able to stage out of the construction camp, so they were closer to the fire and more effective at sighting it.
Assessing the risk of fire is ongoing, depending on how hot and dry it gets and Innergex must restrict specific methods if the risk is high.
"Even moving rocks sometimes, there's a small risk of a spark — when a piece of metal hits a rock," said Giroux-Schmidt. "Something like that you can't do if there's an extreme fire risk. We look at that every day and plan our work around that."
Giroux-Schmidt added there's also a risk of landslides that could affect construction.
Last summer's delay pushed back the initial completion window from the fall of this year, to the Upper Lillooet facility's revised date of February 2017, and the Boulder Creek facility for May 2017.
The full construction crew of about 300 is completing intakes, water diversions and tunnel work at both Upper Lillooet and Boulder Creek, with further work scheduled for the Alena Creek Fish Enhancement project at Upper Lillooet.
Crews are also completing the installation of turbines, generators and electrical components, as well as final work on substations at both Lillooet and Boulder Creek.
There are 72 kilometres of of transmission line being constructed to connect the two facilities to the BC Hydro system. Once complete, the project will generate 426,500 MWh of electricity on an annual basis, equivalent to powering 39,000 homes.
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