Canada was first to build 750-kV high-voltage transmission
December 2, 2015
Hydro-Québec is celebrating the 50th anniversary of a revolutionary technology.
It commissioned the world’s first 735-kilovolt (kV) high voltage transmission line on November 29, 1965.
The 735-kV transmission made it economically possible to transfer hydropower from the north, resulting in the development of vast generating complexes such as La Grande in James Bay and Manic-Outardes on the Côte-Nord.
While other countries were looking into developing 500-kV high voltage lines, a young Hydro-Québec engineer named Jean-Jacques Archambault worked on 735 kV, which was a voltage level never considered before.
“In August 1962, the Quebec Hydro-Electric commission gave the project the green light. An army of engineers and technicians was mobilized,” says a Hydro-Québec press release.
Today 735-kV transmission lines are used around the world and are the main arteries of Quebec’s hydro transmission system.
Hydropower now supplies more than 99% of the electricity generated in Quebec and the province has the lowest electricity rates in North America. The Quebec government is currently planning development of the Chamouchouane-Bout-de-l’Ile 750-kv project.
(The Great Ice Storm of January1998 crippled the transmission system, when inches of ice caused transmission towers to collapse under the weight. Millions of people in southern Quebec, eastern Ontario and the Atlantic provinces were without power for weeks. The military were brought in, and 35 people died.)