BC Hydro proposing substation for Function Junction 

Whistler expected to reach existing facility’s capacity in 18 months

BC Hydro is planning to build a new substation in Function Junction to meet Whistler’s growing demand for electricity.

"There’s a need for us to add capacity to our system," said Project Manager Ron Cleven, in a presentation to council at the last regular meeting.

"We have an obligation to meet your peak demand."

BC Hydro’s Rainbow substation, the only substation in Whistler, has the capacity to deliver 113 MVA (megavolt-amperes). Hydro estimates Whistler will reach the substation’s capacity within the next 18 months.

Whistler’s electricity consumption is then expected to gradually climb to 145 MVA by 2010, after which time it should level out to 140-145 MVA.

One of the ways Hydro identified future needs was by examining the number of bed units that could be developed in Whistler. Hydro used the Comprehensive Sustainability Plan, the municipality’s long range planning document, to develop their projections.

The CSP allows for the provision of up to 6,650 more bed units for resident housing in the coming years.

In addition, Hydro also factored in large spot loads, such as hotels and large development, which could significantly impact demand.

"We base our estimates on average growth rates and known spot loads that are proposed," said Charlotte Bemister, Hydro’s community relations co-ordinator, after the council presentation.

"For example, in Whistler there’s the new Four Seasons Hotel, the new cultural centre, and obviously new subdivisions, to name a few."

Olympic venues have also been factored into the future projections, although Bemister said the Olympics are not driving Hydro’s expansion plans.

"The Olympics aren’t driving this," she said.

"We’re already in a crunch position, with or without the Olympics."

In reviewing its options Hydro looked at expanding its facilities at the Rainbow substation or building a new substation in Function Junction, on land above the Cardinal Concrete plant under the existing transmission line.

Hydro owns the land in both areas. The land in Function Junction is zoned for a utility building.

"At the end of the day what we’re doing is going out the door and discussing both but putting forward our preferred option," said Bemister.

"And basically it’s preferred because there’s some real value in having two substations."

A second substation could act as a back up to the first substation during maintenance work and power outages. It would also make the system more reliable and secure.

Another plus to putting the new substation in Function Junction is that most of the new growth in Whistler is expected to happen in the south end of town, namely the Olympic athletes village slated for the Lower Cheakamus area, across the highway from Function Junction.


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