$1.09 billion project on time and on budget as work in massive underground cavern continues.
Since January 2015 when work began it’s been more like a mining project as long, massive tunnels have been dug out deep underground.
“We’re about a third of the way along the power tunnels, 1.6 km up to the John Hart Dam. That tunnel is just over 8 metres in diameter so that will take us well into 2017 to complete that” said BC Hydro spokesperson Stephan Watson.
The tunnels will feed water to the turbines straight from the John Hart Dam and are only part of the incredible underground work being completed.
The centrepiece is an enormous cavern where the power will be generated.
“It took about 13 months to create, it was about 485 blasts, 60,000 cubic metres of rock, enough to fill about 24 olympic sized swimming pools” added Watson.
“It is quite sort of awe-inspiring when you get in there and when you understand the scale of it being the length of a football field and ten or twelve stories high it is quite something” said Paul Sawyer, CEO of In Power BC, the main contractor behind the project.
Now that the cavern has been dug out work is well under way preparing for the three turbine generators and related hydro equipment.
It is a 1.09 billion dollar project and about 350 people are working on it right now, most of them local.
“The majority of those people live within 90 kilometres of the site. We’ve also got well over 100 sub-contractors, suppliers and services, companies that are involved in this project so it’s been a really good effort” said Watson.
The project is replacing the current John Hart generating station built in 1947 which is unable to withstand even a moderate earthquake.
“Well the three project drivers are safety in terms of seismic risk. We have reliability, the existing facility was built in the 40s and protecting downstream fish habitat” said Watson.
“It is unique, typically power stations are at the dam or in a power house as it is now but it is a bit unique to be completely underground but it provides us that seismic stability we’re looking for” added Sawyer.
The project is on budget and on time, expected to be completed in the fall of 2018.