Electricity for much of the west side of Okanagan Lake comes through a single transmission line, providing power to more than 60,000 people.
Right now, a 450-hectare wildfire near Brenda Creek is threatening that power source — and this isn’t the first time it’s happened.
The City of West Kelowna is concerned about the potential ramifications of wildfires that continue to threaten power to the area.
The transmission line is the only source of power for West Kelowna, Peachland, Summerland, Westside Road, Westbank First Nation and portions of the Central Okanagan West electoral area.
The city has been advocating for a second source of power since 2007, said Mayor Gord Milsom, but it is taking a long time for B.C. Hydro to “make up their minds.” It would also take years to build even if the plans were approved.
“We are concerned that the fire will knock out the transmission line and an extended power outage would affect the community. While we were informed that the line is okay, weather conditions may change,” said Milsom.
In 2014, the Smith Creek wildfire threatened the same BC Hydro power line. The Capital News then reported that West Kelowna was the largest community in B.C. supplied by a single power line.
In preparation for a potential outage, Interior Health is delivering additional power sources and generators to health facilities in the region. It also cautioned residents to consider steps to remain safe in the event of an extended power outage due to the wildfire.
“Power outages will limit the ability to keep cool and have clean air in homes. A prolonged period of heat can become dangerous for many people,” the health authority stated in a news release.
On Monday morning, the BC Wildfire Service said the power line has not been affected thus far and crews are working to make sure it won’t be.