Waneta expansion rolls out Italian-made form

Milestone: Intake and tunnel excavation complete on site.

The Waneta expansion project has hit another milestone with completion of intake and tunnel excavation, it was announced Monday.

Project partners – Fortis Inc., Columbia Power Corporation and Columbia Basin Trust – are reporting that the $900-million job remains on schedule for completion by 2015.

“Now that the excavation has substantially been complete in the tunnel area, a $1 million Italian-made traveling tunnel form has been placed into the power tunnel areas and this is where it begins a process of lining the power tunnels with concrete,” explained Audrey Repin, spokesperson for the project.

The collapsible steel walls of the form create seamlessly lined tunnels, which are engineered to withstand hydrostatic water pressure.

The concrete lining will include a high-fly ash content to maximize strength and flow efficiency.

“What’s really big here is that all that rock that we have excavated is going to be available for future highway projects and that’s really key,” added Repin.

In total, over 62,000 cubic metres of rock was removed from the tunnels and adit, another 78,000 cubic metres of rock and 19,000 cubic metres of overburden have been removed from the intake.

The project, which has so far brought $80 million in economic benefits and over 300 jobs to the Columbia Basin, will see the completion of a second powerhouse to share the hydraulic head created by the existing Waneta Dam, owned by Teck and BC Hydro.

An intake structure will flow from the Waneta head point through two parallel tunnels that will supply two Francis turbines in the new powerhouse.

The 335-megawatt hydroelectric project will generate enough power to supply 60,000 homes annually – a unique opportunity to obtain clean large amounts of hydroelectric energy without building a new dam.