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Underground lines clean up corridor

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by Nicole Bogdanovic
November 22, 2016

Electricity operations, Projects

What do a drive-in, a roller rink and a feedlot have in common with power poles? They are all features that have disappeared from the Kelowna landscape along Highway 97 North.

To make way for the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure’s Highway 97 widening project in Kelowna, four kilometers of overhead line are going underground—this is the largest overhead to underground conversion FortisBC has undertaken to date.

Underground lines last longer and cost less to maintain than overhead lines. They are protected from motor vehicle incidents, weather conditions like wind-borne trees and ice-loading and wildlife like squirrels and birds. In contrast, wooden poles require more ongoing maintenance.

The removal of 50 power poles also cleans up and urbanizes a critical corridor that provides access to UBC-Okanagan, the Kelowna International Airport and north Okanagan communities like Lake Country and Vernon.

As part of this upgrade, crews have also relocated 11 transmission poles between Edwards and Old Vernon Roads and replaced several wooden structures with stronger galvanized steel poles for improved support of the transmission line. Highly-skilled power line technicians completed much of this work on energized lines to minimize service disruptions for the many businesses that operate in this busy commercial hub.

By undertaking this upgrade as part of a larger infrastructure project, FortisBC is able to improve the system at less cost to customers. FortisBC and the Ministry will share the cost of this upgrade which represents a $5.4 million investment in the electrical system in the region.

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