Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

New $30-million Queensborough substation providing power to New West

Powering New Westminster’s growth: New Queensborough electrical substation gets fired up

The City of New Westminster’s new electrical substation is now providing power to parts of Queensborough.

Since firing up the new $30-million Queensborough electrical substation on Friday night, the New Westminster Electrical Utility has been providing power to Value Village and a section of commercial in that part of Queensborough – starting with a small area to ensure a smooth transition. Until June 16, all of Queensborough’s power had come from the city’s mainland.

“Now we’ve got the substation right here in Queensborough, so it’s a lot better,” said Rod Carle, general manager of the New Westminster Electrical Utility. “The cable runs are a lot shorter – you should see a lot more efficiencies, etc. from feeding everything on the island from the island.”

Carle said the facility will be providing power to all of Queensborough by the end of the summer.

“We need to probably have everything in place before winter,” he told the Record.

Carle said the new facility will free up some capacity on the mainland. When the area around the 22nd Street SkyTrain station is developed, he said that area will likely get its power from the Queensborough substation.

On Tuesday afternoon, the City of New Westminster held an official ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new substation.

Steve Faltas, acting senior manager of the New Westminster Electrical Utility, said discussions about the project date back to the summer of 2017. He said the “long journey” to the completion of the electrical substation was made possible by the vision and leadership of city council and the utility commission, and was supported by the city’s ongoing partnership with BC Hydro.

“Council deserves a lot of credit for their resounding support of this project from the moment it was presented to them several years ago and all throughout the process,” he said. “I’m not going to lie; at times, when presenting a new project to council, it’s like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get. But I can honestly say that that wasn’t the case with this project. They were on board from the beginning.”

Mayor Patrick Johnstone said the project demonstrates local leadership on renewable energy and provides the kind of resiliency needed by a community that’s growing at the speed New Westminster is growing.

“The substation will continue our utilities mission of safely and reliably providing renewable energy to the residents and business owners of New Westminster,” he said.

According to Johnstone, the project represents the largest single financial investment the city’s electric utility has made since its inception in 1891. While it was a “technically and jurisdictionally” challenging site, he said the city’s team and the contractors working on the project brought it in under budget – despite a supply chain crisis, inflation and significant labour force challenges across construction industry.

Johnstone told the Record the project came in more than $2 million under budget.

Accommodating growth

A 25 to 30 years systems plan developed in 2015 indicated the city would eventually need to build a substation in Queensborough and consider a potential substation in Sapperton by 2030, Carle said.

In October 2017, Queensborough residents lost power after a cable failure on a circuit on the Queensborough Bridge. A subsequent fire damaged the adjacent circuits and left Queensborough without power for several days – highlighting the need for a substation in Queensborough.

“We always had that in the plan,” he said. “We knew we had to put something here to alleviate that issue. We didn’t want it to happen again.”

New Westminster now has three substations – one in Queensborough and two on the mainland.

“We currently are looking at a fourth in Sapperton. We just went out for a feasibility study. It closed last week. And we’re going to be starting that review,” Carle said. “And if everything goes the way we want it, we’ll probably have a new substation in Sapperton in five years’ time.”

A growing city means a growing need for power, Carle said.

“Probably in the next 15 to 20 years, we will double our load,” he said. “And so we’re trying right now to plan out all sources and supplies, and where we’re going to get all our power from. Again, working with Hydro. We are just a distribution utility. So we have to work with them to give us the supply. And then from there, we distribute it.”

The new Queensborough substation, located at 886 Boyd St., was previously a Greenfield site. The substation is connected to BC Hydro’s transmission system and is supplied by two transformers through six feeder positions, with provisions for an additional four feeder positions in the future.