BC Hydro crews do emergency repair on subsea cable

A BC Hydro crew had to do some emergency work last Tuesday to protect one of the subsea cables that delivers electricity from Moresby to Graham Island.

Installed between 1981 and 1980, all four of the aging power cables are due to be replaced next summer.

On Tuesday, July 25, BC Hydro workers saw that one cable on the Skidegate side was lying exposed on a beach. To prevent any damage, they laid bags of concrete overtop to protect the cable until it’s replaced.

“We’re still a year out from doing any work,” said Dave Mosure, a spokesperson for BC Hydro.

“The guys were just on scene, getting a lay of the land to see what we’re up against for planning purposes, and they took a look at the line and said, ‘Whoa, that needs to be repaired right now.’”

Fixing the line meant everyone connected to Haida Gwaii’s southern grid north of Sandspit had to go without power for a half hour last Tuesday afternoon.

Mosure said of the four 5.5 km cables that connect Graham with Moresby Island, one is a spare.

Depending on water levels, the power cables either deliver power generated at the hydroelectric station on Moresby Lake, or from diesel-fired generators at the station west of Sandspit. In recent years, about 80 per cent of the power supplied to Haida Gwaii’s southern grid has come from the hydro station.

Separately, local internet service provider Gwaii Communications has applied for a federal grant to install a subsea fibre-optic cable between Graham and Moresby Islands. If it goes ahead, the company has discussed the possibility of cost-sharing with BC Hydro to lay both the power cables and the fibre-optic cable at the same time.