Northwest Transmission Line Energizes Northwest BC’s Economy

Mining Association of British Columbia

2012 - The development of the Northwest Transmission Line that is extending BC Hydro's transmission grid north of Terrace, BC has tremendous potential for development of the Northwest with ten new mines as customers and seven independent power projects delivering clean, green energy into the Province's electrical grid. These projects alone could generate up to 5,500 direct jobs and over 18,000 indirect jobs over the next several decades with potential capital investments of $15 billion that will be enabled by this strategic piece of infrastructure. The Northwest Transmission Line will be a 287 kilovolt circuit that starts at Skeena Substation (near Terrace) and will initially run 335 km north to a new substation near Bob Quinn Lake.

Prior to this project, the Highway 37 corridor from Meziadin Junction to Dease Lake is poorly served by unreliable and expensive diesel power which often fails, resulting in brown-outs to the service area. These power interruptions restrict rural communities and isolated regions from realizing their full development potential. Infrastructure improvements in Northwest BC, such as the Northwest Transmission Line, will provide the tools needed for communities to pursue equitable social and economic growth in our province.

To inform this major construction project, in 2008 a comprehensive business case was written by Macquarie Bank that determined the threshold of economic activity that would be required to make the construction of the Northwest Transmission Line an economically viable infrastructure project. Additionally, Macquarie prepared the case for this project in regards to estimates of mine life, power demand, and alternatives for energy source among others.

"This will enable tremendous industrial development and needed jobs in the northwest, as well as economic benefits to all of BC. In Terrace today, there are no longer any major industrial employers and development in the region north of us will have a huge positive impact on our retail, service and supply sectors."

Dave Pernarowski, Mayor, City of Terrace

"This is green infrastructure that can power a bioenergy economy in northwest forests utilizing manufacturing technology based in Prince George for wood pellet plants. It will also enable tremendous carbon savings over mines that would otherwise have to depend on diesel."

Dan Rogers, former Mayor, City of Prince George

"The potential that the power line holds for the region, and projects under development such as Schaft Creek is tremendous. Copper Fox is proud to be among the members of the consortium and a contributor to the study. We are confident it will confirm a strong business case for the power line's development."

Guillermo Salazar, former President and Chief Executive Officer, Copper Fox

Positive Economic Impacts in Northwest BC

Infrastructure projects of this nature result in new opportunities for rural and urban communities, providing jobs and skills training during planning, implementation and construction, and ongoing employment in servicing and maintenance. New roadways and hydroelectric power in the Highway 37 corridor will open up new opportunities for high-paying jobs in mining, forestry, and power generation, while revitalizing existing tourism, guide outfitting, transportation, and supply industries in northwest BC.

The Northwest Transmission Line will provide a reliable supply of clean electricity to attract and support new industrial growth throughout the region. Additionally, this project will also provide a secure point of interconnection to the electricity grid for new sources of clean electricity developed by independent power producers (IPPs). Development of IPP-generated electricity will help BC meet the Province's goal, set out in the recent BC Clean Energy Act, of energy self-sufficiency.

The business case report, 'Delivering Green Power to Northwestern British Columbia' was released in May 2009. Later that year in September, the Government of Canada announced $130 million in capital funding for this project through the Green Infrastructure Fund. The business case reported that the immediate greenhouse gas emission reduction from the shutdown of current diesel generation combined with the estimated avoided emissions from the generation of green energy of approved and licensed run-of-river projects from Terrace to Dease Lake equates to 208,000 tonnes of CO2 per year, or the equivalent of almost 35,000 cars. Additionally, the emissions avoided by powering all potential mining projects off the powerline grid instead of diesel, which is the only current alternative, would exceed 3.7 million tonnes of CO2 per year or the equivalent of removing 629,000 cars from the road. These findings were crucial to informing federal government support for this major construction project.

In 2011, BC Hydro awareded the contract for the design and construction of the Northwest Transmission Line to Valard Construction, a Quanta Services company, and Burns & McDonnell. Construction of the Northwest Transmission Line is set to begin shortly and is scheduled to be in service in December 2013. BC Hydro estimates that the construction of the Northwest Transmission Line will create up to 840 direct jobs during its' three years of construction.

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