Mica Dam on the Columbia River is poised to overtake W.A.C. Bennett Dam as the site of the largest hydroelectric facility in British Columbia.
This week the B.C. environmental assessment office approved BC Hydro's application to install two additional turbines at Mica, which is situated on the Columbia 135 kilometres north of Revelstoke.
Mica came into service in 1977 but two of its six turbine bays were left empty on the premise that the power was not needed at the time of its construction.
The installation of the final two turbines would give Mica a nameplate capacity of 2,800 megawatts -compared to 2,730 for Shrum generating station at Bennett Dam on the Peace River in northeast B.C.
The project includes two 500-megawatt turbines and gives Hydro an immediate boost of 1,000 megawatts of generating capacity -100 more than what is being proposed for the Site C dam on the Peace River.
Total cost of the project could range up to $1.26 billion.
Hydro projects the first turbine will come into service in October 2013, and the second in October 2014. On-site construction is expected to provide 300 person-years of employment.
Bennett will still produce more electricity for the province, day to day, in its role as a baseline facility -because it has a larger reservoir to draw upon.