British Columbia is spending $204 million to expand the capacity of the Brilliant Dam power plant near Castlegar in West Kootenay.
The Brilliant Dam was originally built by Cominco in the 1940s with a capacity of 125 megawatts. The expansion will see the construction of a second power plant at the dam on the Kootenay River. The new component will produce an additional 120 megawatts of power — enough electricity to supply about 38,000 homes for a year.
The Columbia Power Corporation, a Crown corporation which works in partnership with the Columbia Basin Trust, bought the dam in 1996 and began upgrading it in 2000. For this latest expansion the corporation has signed a design-build agreement with a consortium that includes SNC-Lavalin of Montreal, Skanska-Chant and Skanska International Civil Engineering.
“Many people have put a lot of time and energy into making this project viable,” said Josh Smienk, chair of the Columbia Basin Trust. “It will provide numerous long-term benefits for social, economic and environmental projects for communities in the Columbia Basin”
The government press release says the project has environmental benefits. First, it will improve downstream aquatic habitat by reducing the total gas pressure caused by water spilling over the dam. Second, as a renewable energy source, it saves annually around 450,000 tonnes of greenhous gas emissions that would be released by burning fossil fuels to produce the same amount of power.