ABB has been awarded a contract by Canadian utility BC Hydro to supply critical power transformers with advanced safety features and smaller footprint for the 2,805MW Mica hydroelectric plant located in British Columbia.

The contract is part of BC Hydro’s effort to upgrade some of the ultra-high-voltage equipment in the Mica underground powerhouse which is nearing the end of its useful life.

Under the $28m contract, ABB will design, manufacture and supply single phase, 176-megavolt ampere (MVA) 500kV transformers.

The firm plans to manufacture the equipment at its transformer facility in Varennes, Quebec.

ABB Transformers business unit, a part of the company’s Power Grids division, managing director Markus Heimbach said: “This project enables us to support our customer in their ongoing efforts to bring safe and reliable power supply to consumers.”

ABB said its transformers portfolio includes HVDC and power transformers rated up to 1,200kV, dry- and liquid-distribution transformers, traction and special application transformers as well as related services and components.

Said to be the largest of its kind in British Columbia, the Mica hydroelectric plant is claimed to be one of the largest earth-fill dams in the world. It was commissioned in mid-1970s.

As part of the contract, ABB will also provide flexible tank technology to replace the plant’s Generator Step-Up (GSU) transformer banks and mitigate the risk of tank rupture.

The GSU transformers are designed to provide a critical link between the power station and the transmission network.

The hydro project, which produces power for more than 650,000 homes annually, accounts to about 22% of the generating capacity of BC Hydro, a provincially-owned power utility.

Image: The 2,805MW Mica hydroelectric plant located in British Columbia, Canada. Photo: courtesy of ABB.