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West K in line for more power

If there is any good news to come out of the current wildfire burning in the hills above Smith Creek, it's the fact a second, redundant power source may finally be on the books.

The council of the day in West Kelowna has been raising the issue of a second power supply with BC Hydro since incorporation in 2007.

Now, with the wildfire threatening the single power source in Smith Creek, Mayor Doug Findlater says people are listening.

"I spoke to Premier Clark about it last night and she gets it," says Findlater.

"She said this morning on the radio I get it, I agree and I'm going to direct BC Hydro to fix it."

Findlater says the issue first came up prior to the first municipal election in 2007.

During the campaign in October, Findlater says the community had to endure a 15 hour power outage.

"This is something we have picked up every year since with BC Hydro."

The entire westside including Peachland, West Kelowna, WFN and some of the rural areas receive power from a single line that comes from Merritt and eventually to the Shannon Lake Road sub station.

That's 60,000 people.

"We need that redundancy. We are the largest populated area in BC that does not have a redundant power supply."

Findlater says there are three options available.

"They could bring a power line from the Vernon sub station in the north, they could come up from the south and connect to Summerland or there could be an underwater connection to Fortis in Kelowna," says Findlater.

He says all are feasible and come with different price tags and issues associated with them.

At last report the Smith Creek fire was about 100 metres from the main feeder line.

Findlater says officials are looking at bringing in generators to power essential services if the fire compromises power to the region.

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