CHAMBER CONNECTION: Opportunities for businesses during dam upgrade project

The Ruskin Dam is slated for an $800-million upgrade.

The Ruskin Dam is slated for an $800-million upgrade.

The Ruskin Dam and Powerhouse upgrade is a comprehensive, $800 million regeneration project.

Subject to B.C. Utilities Commission regulatory approval, the project is scheduled to begin in 2012 and take approximately six years to complete.

The project will involve seismically reinforcing the right bank of the dam and the powerhouse, replacing the spillway gates and piers on the top of the dam, as well as the turbines and generators that have been producing electricity for British Columbia for generations.

Back in 1930, when the dam was built, a seepage cutoff wall built upstream of the dam on the right abutment worked “much like the liner in your swimming pool by keeping the water in,” says Hydro engineer Nick Vanderkwaak. The existing cutoff wall, being seismically deficient, will be replaced by a specially designed in-ground barrier wall that will reinforce the right bank to control water seepage.

But what excites Vanderkwaak most are the Ruskin Dam’s three 35-megawatt turbine engines — two built in 1930, one added in 1950. Like the powerhouse’s 80-year old light bulb, the turbines “have proven themselves to be of good design and long serviceability,” he says. Now, they’re tired and running inefficiently.

The solution, says Vanderkwaak, is to retain those parts of the turbines and generators that continue to be serviceable, like the rotors and bearings, and replace those that don’t work so well — like the stator core and windings. After the upgrade project is complete, Ruskin will provide enough electricity for over 33,000 homes.”

Generating approximately 1,050 person years of employment during construction and significant economic benefit for the community, the Ruskin Dam and Powerhouse upgrade will offer important business opportunities for the community.

In order to support local business, the Mission Regional Chamber of Commerce has developed The Mission Handbook for Major Projects in partnership with the economic development committee of the District of Mission. The handbook is a listing of Mission businesses and community information in a format that would be helpful to large outside contractors searching for local information. BC Hydro has already included the Handbook as part of their tender documents on BC Bid. Major contracts associated with the Ruskin project will be awarded later this year.

To learn more about the upgrade, and the opportunities associated with it, attend the Sept. 15, chamber luncheon with speaker Boyd Mason.

He currently works for BC Hydro and is the senior project manager responsible for the project.


Business Excellence

Thank you to all who nominated over 60 businesses in Mission for the eight categories of Business Excellence.  Congratulations to all who have been nominated! Nominees will now present to a panel of three judges who will independently score each nominee on criteria established for their award. On Oct. 21, a gala celebrating their achievements and announcing the winner of the each award will be held in the ballroom of the Mission Best Western. For a list of the nominees or to purchase a ticket for the gala go to