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West Kelowna mayor presses other jurisdictions to support power line back-up bid

The substation at Shannon Lake is the sole power line connection for a large part of the Westside.
January 23, 2015 - 3:06 PM

KELOWNA - While he insists progress is being made on a solution to the vulnerability of its single-line power supply, West Kelowna Mayor Doug Findlater says the district is calling for expressions of support from other affected jurisdictions in advance of a soon-to-be-released B.C. Hydro study into the issue.

“We’re being cautious,” Findletter said, of the request sent to the governments of Westbank First Nation, Peachland and the Central Okanagan and Okanagan Similkameen regional districts. “We want other people to take ownership of this issue as well.”

Findlater would not comment on what the study might contain, but said his concerns remain about the vulnerability of the communities relying on the single radial transmission line running from Merritt to Shannon Lake for power.

“B.C. Hydro and I differ on risk ranking,” Findlater said. “They describe it on the basis of reliability, we view it on the basis of consequences.”

The mayor painted a bleak picture of a community slowly breaking down should that line be cut and remain inoperable for any length of time.

“The traffic lights would start going out after a few hours. Water pressure in fire hydrants becomes non-existent. If it goes on for several days, we have to start worrying about people in care homes that may need to be evacuated,” Findlater said. “The consequences are very significant with risk to over 60,000 people."

Power to the affected areas was last cut Oct. 2 when fire started atop one of the poles supporting the line, causing a failure that lasted some nine hours. Another failure occured in 2007 but just as significantly the power line has been threatened at times by wildfires in the area, including the Smith Creek blaze last summer.

To contact the reporter for this story, email John McDonald at jmcdonald@infotelnews.ca or call 250-808-0143. To contact the editor, email mjones@infotelnews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015
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