The decision means Canadian utility BC Hydro may now begin construction on the significant upgrades, creating economic opportunities for local businesses and generating about 175 jobs a year during the project’s six years of construction.

The BCUC panel determined that “the Ruskin Dam and Powerhouse Upgrade Project is necessary and in the public interest as it is the most cost-effective long-term solution” compared with deferring the work, de-rating the facility, or decommissioning the site and removing the dam.

In its decision, the BCUC panel said the facility has seismic deficiencies “which require remediation to mitigate public and employee safety, financial and environmental risks.” The BCUC also noted that “the age and condition of the existing (generating) units at the Ruskin facility represent a significant risk to reliability.”

The BCUC has approved all four components of the Ruskin Dam and Powerhouse Upgrade Project: reinforcement of the right bank, seismic upgrade of the dam and water intakes, powerhouse upgrades, and relocation of the switchyard.

“I am very pleased that the British Columbia Utilities Commission recognizes that BC Hydro must invest in heritage assets like the 82-year-old Ruskin facility to retain their value for future generations,” commented Rich Coleman, Minister of Energy and Mines. “With seismic improvements to the dam and powerhouse, and new generating equipment, this facility will continue to deliver clean, reliable power to the Lower Mainland for 75 years or more.”