The John Hart Generating Station Replacement Project has earned SNC-Lavalin and BC Hydro the Outstanding Project award from the Canadian Hydropower Association (CHA). Numerous elements contribute to a project’s success, and in this case, the sum of all the outstanding and innovative attributes set this hydropower project apart from others.
“SNC-Lavalin and its partners are thankful for BC Hydro’s trust in taking the innovative route of building an underground power station that leaves a small footprint on the environment,” said Royden Heays, vice-president, operations and senior project manager, SNC-Lavalin. “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.”
Environmental protection was a primary driver. The original plans had a more traditional surface powerhouse that would require an extensive steel lined section of the power tunnel. Instead, the project now consists of an underground power tunnel over eight metres in diameter, an underground powerhouse that is as tall as a 10 storey building and as long as a football field, and an underground tailrace tunnel and outlet structure.
Operations are now underground which allows for the removal of the three penstocks and the old station from the surface. The 1.8 kilometre long penstock corridor will be returned to a forest setting. Restoration significantly reduces the project’s environmental footprint.
The John Hart project near Campbell River is North America’s first public-private partnership (P3) project in the hydro sector. SNC-Lavalin created a special purpose general partnership (“InPower BC”) to enter into a project agreement with BC Hydro to partially finance, design, build a new generating facility and maintain it for 15 years.