Waneta Expansion Celebrates Grand Opening & Workers Who Made It Happen

Left to right: Karl Smith – Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer, Fortis Inc., Greg Deck – Chair, Board of Directors of Columbia Basin Trust, Bill Bennett – Minister of Energy and Mines, Lee Doney – Chair, Board of Directors of Columbia Power Corporation, Anne Jimmie – Elder, Lower Kootenay Band Ktunaxa Nation, Jonathan Kruger – Chief, Penticton Indian Band Okanagan Nation. 

CASTLEGAR, B.C. – The Waneta Expansion Limited Partnership (WELP), a partnership between Fortis Inc., Columbia Power Corporation and Columbia Basin Trust, celebrated the grand opening of the $900 million, 335 MW Waneta Expansion Project, near Trail today. The official grand opening celebration took place at the facility with project stakeholders, contractors, government representatives, and First Nations.

Located immediately downstream of the Waneta Dam on the Pend d’Oreille River, the Waneta Expansion adds a second powerhouse that shares the existing hydraulic head, generating clean, renewable, cost-effective power from water that would otherwise be spilled. The project included the construction of a 10 km, 230 kV transmission line.

Earlier this year, Waneta Expansion achieved substantial completion, a major project milestone, when the two generators began producing power. The eighth largest infrastructure project in British Columbia at its time of construction, Waneta Expansion was completed within budget and six weeks ahead of schedule. Throughout its four-and-a-half-years of construction, the project maintained an excellent safety and environmental protection record.

Major project benefits include the injection of over $300 million into the local economy through the purchase of goods, services and wages. Along with the clear financial benefit to the region, the project also allowed many tradespeople to stay at home and work, while many new workers got to participate in apprenticeship opportunities. Employment reached over 1,400 people and the project provided 194 apprenticeship opportunities from 13 different trades.

“This project’s success shows the value of teamwork between our well-established regulated utility operations at FortisBC and Columbia Power Corporation and Columbia Basin Trust,” said Karl Smith, Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer, Fortis Inc. “Not only has this project resulted in clean, renewable hydroelectric power for the region but it has also served as an opportunity to support the local economy, leaving a legacy for future generations.”

“In 2010 when I was Energy Minister the first time, there was a vigorous debate within government about whether to allow the Waneta Expansion project to proceed,” said Bill Bennett, Minister of Energy and Mines. “I am grateful that, as a Kootenay resident, I had the opportunity at the time to ensure that this tremendous project was allowed to proceed. I want to thank John Walker in particular for his help in making this project happen.”

“As a partner, and the Owner’s Representative managing the project, we are extremely proud of the project and thank the workers and SNC-Lavalin Inc., the project contractor, for making this project a huge success,” said Lee Doney, Board Chair, Columbia Power Corporation.

“This is a great day for every individual who has participated in the project,” said Neil Muth, President and Chief Executive Officer, Columbia Basin Trust. “Not only will the expansion generate electricity, provide jobs and inject money into the local economy, but it will provide revenue that will help us deliver programs and services throughout the Columbia Basin.”

The partners would like to extend a sincere thank you to the workers, contractors, First Nations, local communities, and the Community Impact Management Committee for their support throughout construction.

The partners invite all those who worked at the Waneta Expansion Project, along with their spouse and children, to attend the complimentary worker appreciation BBQ on July 26, from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., at the Birchbank Picnic Grounds, 501 Birchbank Road, Trail, BC.

Columbia Power managed construction of the Waneta Expansion Project on behalf of WELP. For more information please visit: columbiapower.org/wanetaexpansion.

For further information, please contact:

Audrey Repin,
Waneta Expansion Project Spokesperson
Phone 250.304.6044
Cell 250.365.9502

Waneta Expansion Quick Facts:

  • Employed over 1,400 people.
  • During peak employment, there were over 50 apprentices on site.
  • 194 apprentices (from 13 trades) received skills training.
  • Over 70 per cent of the workforce came from within 100 km of the project.
  • 13 Ktunaxa Nation citizens, including trades apprentices and journeymen, worked on the project.
  • Regional spending on goods and services exceeded $220 million.
  • Project wages exceeded $95 million.
  • With over 3 million person hours logged there were only two minor lost time incidents and no major environmental incidents or concerns.
  • $50,000 is awarded annually to research, physical works, and other on-the-ground or applied terrestrial compensation projects. The program will continue for three years following completion of the expansion project this year.
  • The project is situated in an area claimed as traditional territories by both the Ktunaxa Nation Council and Okanagan Nation Alliance. Benefit agreements with both First Nations were executed and the Owner and Contractors worked closely with First Nations to maximize opportunities and benefits.
  • Rock and overburden removed: enough to fill 82,000 tandem truckloads.
  • Concrete used: 85,000 m3, enough to fill over thirty Olympic sized swimming pools.
  • Completed all rock blasting without damage to any neighbouring facilities and without injury to white sturgeon.
  • A Community Impact Management Committee met on a monthly basis to provide ongoing support to encourage positive community impacts and a forum to discuss and address issues raised by the community resulting from construction of the project. The committee includes local residents, members of local and regional government, First Nations and representatives from the Owner and Contractor.
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