Canada's National Energy Board has approved Sea Breeze Converter Corporation's application to construct and operate a 150-kV HVDC international power line (IPL) between Vancouver Island and Washington State.

During the hearing, concern was expressed by area fishers that the buried marine cable could possibly become exposed and potentially interfere with fishing operations. As a condition of approval, Sea Breeze was directed to present a plan to the board on how it would share information with the fishing industry should the cable become exposed and to share standard protocols for lost fishing gear recovery within the cable corridor.

Sea Breeze was further required to develop and file an operations and maintenance manual that included a public awareness program to keep the public apprised of its activities.

The IPL will extend about 48 km southward from the town of View Royal, British Columbia, to a point on the international boundary in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and from there to a point near Port Angeles, Washington. Approximately 12 km will be buried onshore and the remainder buried under the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Sea Breeze also proposes to construct a converter station near an existing substation on Vancouver Island. Construction of the proposed IPL is slated to start in November 2006.

This is the first merchant IPL approved by the NEB. Typically, the builders of a merchant line assume the full cost of construction and the owner sells the use of the line to other companies, which generate and own electricity and want to use the line to transmit the power.

The NEB is an independent federal agency that regulates several aspects of Canada's energy industry. Its purpose is to promote safety and security, environmental protection, and efficient energy infrastructure and markets in the Canadian public interest, within the mandate set by Parliament in the regulation of pipelines, energy development and trade.