FortisBC said in a media release the company has received regulatory approval from the BC Utilities Commission (BCUC) to build a new Kootenay Operations Centre in Castlegar, B.C. and will begin construction as early as May.
Once complete, the new facility will centralize many key operations to better serve electricity customers in the region and replace facilities that have reached their end-of-life.
“This decision is a critical step in ensuring we can provide the best service to the Kootenay region over the long‑term,” said Dennis Swanson, vice-president, corporate services for FortisBC.
“It’s the most cost-effective way to replace end-of life facilities in the Kootenays, and once built, will have immediate customer, employee and operational benefits.”
In addition to addressing facility needs, the new Kootenay Operations Centre offers a number of service and cost benefits such as improved communications and project coordination within departments, reduced travel time and improved safety.
FortisBC first identified the need for a new facility in a 2011 application to the BCUC.
Existing facilities, such as two South Slocan buildings and the Castlegar District Office, are at or near the end of their useful life and would require extensive upgrades to meet modern building code and safety standards.
FortisBC has since consulted with community stakeholders and reviewed several alternatives, including the cost of upgrades. Through this process, the company found that a new operations centre would be the most practical and cost-effective way to address these needs.
The new Kootenay Operations Centre will be located in Oostichenia and be approximately 30,000 square-feet. It will contain office and crew space, material storage and a dedicated Emergency Operations Centre.
Approximately 100 employees will operate from the facility including power line technicians, substation electricians, engineers, designers and other administration staff and field crews that work with transmission and distribution services.
“We are very pleased with the BCUC decision. This is a significant long-term investment in our community and it fits squarely with our growth strategy,” said Mayor Lawrence Chernoff, City of Castlegar.
“It sends a clear message for other potential business investment — Castlegar is an ideal location for business in the Kootenays.”
Construction for the new Kootenay Operations Centre is set to begin in May following a tendering process, which will consider qualified local contractors. The facility is expected to open before the end of 2017.
For project information or to submit a comment, customers can visit fortisbc.com/KootenayOps.