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Improving Safety Culture with BC Hydro

British Columbia Hydro and Power Authority is a Canadian electric utility in the province of British Columbia. Locally referred to as BC Hydro, it is one of the largest electric utilities in Canada.

BC Hydro

British Columbia Hydro and Power Authority is a Canadian electric utility in the province of British Columbia. Locally referred to as BC Hydro, it is one of the largest electric utilities in Canada, serving more than 1.7 million customers in an area containing over 95 percent of British Columbia's population;

its self-appointed mandate is to provide, "Reliable power, at low cost, for generations."

As a provincial Crown Corporation, BC Hydro reports to the BC Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, and is regulated by the BC Utilities Commission (BCUC). BC Hydro operates 30 hydroelectric facilities together with three gas-fuelled thermal power plants. The hydro facilities generate between 43,000 and 54,000 gigawatt hours of electricity annually, depending on available water flows.

Supporting BC Hydro’s Facilities Upgrade Programme

BC Hydro is currently undertaking a multi-billion dollar upgrade and renewal of their dam and generation facilities underwritten by their Safety-By-Design initiative. BMT has been tasked to apply its internationally-acquired knowledge of how system safety is managed in high hazard industries to BC Hydro’s investment programme. The aims of this assistance are to help BC Hydro to target their investment spending to achieve optimum risk reduction and to transfer BMT’s knowledge and skills into BC Hydro’s own engineering and management teams for the longer term.

As a starting point, BMT has adapted the Safety Assessment Principles developed for the UK nuclear industry for use in the hydro-electric industry, recognising the shared high consequence / low probability characteristics of both industry’s principal hazards.

The safety assessment principles developed for BC Hydro provide a checklist of safety issues and best practices that can be readily embedded into BC Hydro’s engineering design programmes.

Working closely with BC Hydro, BMT has conducted safety assessments of the spillway gates and supporting dam structures and systems at Daisy Lake on the Cheakamus River and a review of the Cheakamus Power Station. With the knowledge transferred in these projects, BC Hydro now plans to conduct a safety assessment of the associated electrical substation, drawing on BMT’s methods.