Projects & Studies
Every year Nelson Hydro starts and finishes hundreds of projects to repair, maintain, and upgrade the reliability of the electrical system for its approximately 11,000 customers in all areas of the utility; generation, transmission, and distribution. Here's a bit about what is going on...
Mill Street Substation Upgrade
Built in 1958, the Mill St. Substation is one of the major distribution substations in the Nelson Hydro network, serving approximately 5,860 customers. In July 2021 a critical transformer failed and was subsequently deemed uneconomical to repair. This failure moved up the planned upgrade of the substation by one year as the substation was at the end of its life. The majority of the construction work will be completed by contractors.
Construction started in September 2023. The plan is to finish the equipment foundations by the end of 2023. The new substation is being built beside the old substation. Nelson Hydro will transition to the new substation without interrupting power to its customers when all commission testing is complete. The project budget is $8.3 million and will be completed over a three-year period from 2022 to 2024.
Geographic Information System Implementation
The Geographic Information System (GIS) Implementation Project for Nelson Hydro runs from January 2023 to December 2025 and will convert hundreds of AutoCAD layers and diagrams into smart maps, or GIS, for the electric utility to simplify the design, administration, and maintenance of asset information like electric poles, transformers, and hundreds of kilometres of power lines. By the end of the three years, GIS will be used for both office and field staff as part of their day-to-day operations.
This is a big project for a small utility and staff have been busy learning about GIS and converting asset data into this new smart format. GIS is used in electric utilities to provide information on equipment as well as analytics for tracing the flow of electricity within the electric system. Nelson Hydro is implementing the ESRI Inc., ArcGIS for Utility Networks.
Generating Station Battery Replacement
The current battery bank and charging station at the Bonnington Falls Generating Station have reached their end of life at more than 20 years old. These batteries supply power to critical safety equipment (relays, switches, protective devices, fire alarms, etc.) so the generating station can be operated safely during a power outage.
The new batteries are safer and can withstand seismic activity. Twenty new battery cells have been ordered and delivered, are installed in their new locations within the generating station, and will be fully operational by the end of 2023.
Electrification is the process of replacing vehicles, heaters, and other equipment or appliances that use fossil fuels with those that use electricity as a source of energy. Electrification is being encouraged through rebates by the BC Government, the Government of Canada, Columbia Basin Trust, and FortisBC to reduce Green House Gas Emissions, reach climate targets, and decarbonize the environment to minimize the impacts of climate change. Nelson Hydro customers can receive rebates for many types of fossil fuel conversions as well as electric vehicle charging stations for their homes.
Nelson Hydro completed an Electrification Study in March-August 2023 using both primary (customer survey) and secondary (FortisBC and ICBC) data sources for analysis. The objective of the study was to quantify the impact of customer electrification on electric imports and peak demand in the next three to five years to determine if the current methodology of load forecasting accurately reflects our estimated short-term electric demand. Results indicated that:
- There will be a slow uptake of electric or hybrid electric vehicles within the Nelson Hydro service territory in the short term for residential customers. This slow growth will not have an impact on residential demand and therefore the existing load growth methodology is sufficient to forecast this low level of growth.
- The survey results for commercial customers were inconclusive. It is recommended that Nelson Hydro collect more information from the 190 large commercial customers about their fleet electrification plans using customer survey tools being considered for 2024.
The detailed results of the study are located here.