SNC-Lavalin and BC Hydro have won the Outstanding Project award from the Canadian Hydropower Association for the John Hart Generating Station Replacement Project.
The John Hart project is Canada’s first public-private partnership project in the hydro sector. SNC-Lavalin created a special-purpose general partnership to enter into a deal with BC Hydro to partially finance, design, and build the new facility and maintain it for 15 years.
A key factor in it winning the award was an underground construction. The original plans had a traditional surface powerhouse that would require an extensive steel-lined section of the power tunnel. Instead, an underground placement avoids the steel lining requirements which SNC-Lavalin said made it more affordable. The underground power tunnel is over 8 metres in diameter, while the underground powerhouse is as tall as a ten-storey building and as long as a football field. The underground tunnel system is about 2.2 kilometres in length.
BC Hydro said the replacement project was initiated because the plant, built in 1947, was “aging and needs to be replaced”.
“The existing facility and pipelines are unlikely to withstand a moderate earthquake. A new facility will benefit from years of learning about seismic safety. The existing generating station is also in poor condition. Partly because of that poor condition, electricity output from the generating station is declining. A new facility with new equipment will be more efficient and more reliable.”
Melissa Holland, vice-president of Project Delivery at BC Hydro, said: “We are very pleased to have a generating station that is reliable, seismically strong, and protects downstream fish habitat from river flow reductions.”
“It is a big improvement over the 71-year-old aboveground facility. SNC-Lavalin and their team have done great work and were very innovative with the placement of the powerhouse. The design is also a benefit to the community and adjacent Elk Falls Provincial Park.”
Royden Heays, vice-president of Operations and Senior Project Manager at SNC-Lavalin, added: “We applied our best engineering, utilized best practices in tunnelling, and employed innovations from the hydro and construction worlds to ensure a successful outcome that leaves a clean energy legacy for generations to come.”
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