BC Hydro

The history of BC Hydro begins with the formation of the BC Power Commission in 1945 which was formed to take control of the small local utilities and to provide electricity to isolated areas that had been overlooked by the industry to that point. The Commission was amalgamated with BC Electric in 1962 and the government created the British Columbia Hydro and Power Authority. This new crown corporation was formed to build the large Columbia River Treaty Dams (the Duncan, Hugh Keenleyside and Mica Dams) and the Peace River Dams during the 1960’s and 1970’s.

East Kootenay Power

East Kootenay Power began in March of 1922 as a partnership between the British Columbia and Alberta Power Company Ltd. and investors from Montreal, Quebec. That same year the new company signed an agreement with Consolidated Mining and Smelting Co. Ltd. to supply power to the new concentrator at the Sullivan Mine in Kimberley.

The East Kootenay Power Company has two hydroelectric power plants, one on the Elk River at Elko and the Aberfeldie Dam on the Bull River. As water levels fluctuated and demand increased (from the local coal mines, the concentrator in Kimberley and local domestic use) a steam plant was built to supplement the power supply in 1927.

In September of 1966, BC Hydro purchased the East Kootenay Power operations and took over operation of the two hydro plants.

West Kootenay Power and Light

West Kootenay Power and Light

Incorporated in 1896, West Kootenay Power and Light first constructed a dam and hydro generating station on the Lower Bonnington Falls of the Kootenay River. They then created the longest high voltage line in the world at that time, to transport the electricity 51 km. (32 miles) to Rossland to supply the mines. By July of 1898, the Rossland mines had electricity. As demand grew in the region for electricity, so did the company. In 1905, construction began on the Upper Bonnington Plant just upstream, also know as #2 Plant.

As the years progressed so did the needs of the company’s largest customer, the lead zinc smelter in Trail known as Cominco. During WWI, Cominco acquired the controlling rights of West Kootenay Power to ensure its continued supply of electricity. In 1929 #3 Plant was completed at South Slocan. This was soon followed by the construction of the Corra Linn Dam in 1932 and then the Brilliant Dam in 1944.

The next phase of development for the company was the completion of the Kootenay Lake Span that enabled the company to supply power from its Kootenay River Dams to the Sullivan Mine in Kimberley in the East Kootenay. This 3.2 km (2 mi) span of transmission line was the longest at the time of construction. It was attacked in 1962 by the Sons of Freedom, a fundamentalist sect of the Doukhobor religion. It was quickly repaired and power was restored to the mines and residences of the East Kootenay serviced by WKP.

In 1987, Cominco sold West Kootenay Power to an American company– Utilicorp United, which changed its name to Aquila, Inc. in 2001. In the Kootenay region, the company continued during these years to be known as West Kootenay Power. The company was bought again in 2002 by a Canadian company is now known as FortisBC.