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BC Hydro power switch speeds up electric clocks

Crown corporation using Rio Tinto power for several weeks
Electric clocks in the northwest have been running faster. (Contributed photo)

Electric clocks are running faster from the Burns Lake area west to the coast thanks to a BC Hydro construction project which will eventually increase the amount of power it can provide to the region.

Crews are erecting a transmission tower near Vanderhoof and that means BC Hydro has switched from its own power to power from Rio Tinto’s Kemano generators for safer working conditions.

And because Rio Tinto produces power at a slighty higher frequency, electric clocks pick up speed, said BC Hydro official Dave Mosure.

“Clocks will run slightly faster than normal, accumulating on average 12 seconds per hour of what is referred to as ‘time error’. In other words if the system is running “fast” for 10 hours, clock time will be 120 seconds faster than real time,” he said.

This does not affect those who use digital time pieces as they have a different time-keeping method.

Clock applications in computers, smartphones or other devices tied into the internet are not affected as they take their times from the internet through satellite-based calculations.

It’s not unusual for BC Hydro to switch to Rio Tinto power for limited periods but with more and more people relying on the digital world to keep track of the time, the impact is not as large as it once was.

Electric clocks will run faster from Burns Lake west to the cost until June 19 when BC Hydro will then shrink the affected area to Houston to the coast. That’s expected to last until June 29 when the entire region will return to BC Hydro power.

The transmission tower work underway near Vanderhoof is part of a project by BC Hydro to add capacitors to its current 500 kilovolt system running from Prince George to Terrace.

Capacitors will enable BC Hydro to push more power through the system, a process BC Hydro engineers have likened to increasing the flow through a garden hose.

While BC Hydro says this will help meet current commitments, the added power will not be enough to satisfy a number of large industrial projects being proposed.

And that has the crown corporation in the early planning stages of building a second major power line from Prince George to Terrace.

About the Author: Rod Link

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