Lower Nicola Indian Band Partnering for New Hydro Power Line a First in Canada

March 13, 2020 Updated: March 13, 2020
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Lower Nicola Indian Band (LNIB) is partnering with Valard Construction to build, operate and maintain a new power line that will cross some of the LNIB lands, running from the Trans Mountain pumping station to Aspen Grove, where it will connect to the existing BC Hydro system.

Kevin Ainsworth, General Manager of the LNIB Development Corporation, spoke to The Herald about the project and its potential benefits for the band.

“The band took the initiative as a business opportunity,” said Ainsworth. “At LNIB I would consider us to be quite entrepreneurial and we saw it as an opportunity.”

“So, four or five years ago, four years ago at least, we approached, it was Kinder Morgan at the time, and now Trans Mountain has asked for the opportunity. It was a long, very lengthy discussion and negotiation process with Trans Mountain, to work out all the details of the opportunity.”

The hydro line, a 138-kilovolt line that will run roughly 24kms, is needed to supply additional power to the Kingsvale pumping station when the Trans Mountain pipeline is twinned.

“Kingsvale pumping station, which is on Coldwater Rd., is in place for the original line, but because the line is going to be twinned, the pumping station will also have to be doubled in capacity to handle the new product, and consequently, more power is required for the upgraded pumping station.” Ainsworth explained. “So, a new power line is required.”

The entity with the contract for LNIB is Shulus Electricity Transmission LP, which is 55-percent owned by LNIB Development Corp. and 45-percent owned by Valard Construction.

“One of the reasons that TMX was comfortable working with us is that we’ve chosen a very good and qualified industry partner, Valard Construction,” said Ainsworth. “Valard is a powerline construction company based in Houston, Texas, who also operate and maintain power lines. So, this opportunity for us is quite unique, because not only will we build the powerline, we will operate and maintain the powerline on a 20-year contract with Trans Mountain.”

Economically, the power line will have an impact on the community by providing various job opportunities as site prep commences and the line is built, as well as long-term jobs in performing the maintenance of the line.

“There’s obviously some very good economic benefits under the contract for operating and maintaining the power line, as well as construction opportunity as well. We’re doing all the clearing for Valard as a subcontractor, and Valard will train two power line technicians from our LNIB community to do the operating and maintenance of the line going forward.”

The Kingsvale project is unique in that it will be the first instance in Canada of a power line being constructed, owned, operated and maintained by a First Nations community.