The British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC) has announced its approval for FortisBC's Okanagan Transmission Reinforcement project (OTR) application.

"We are pleased to receive BCUC's approval of this important project," said Doyle Sam, vice president of engineering and operations for FortisBC. "The Okanagan has experienced significant growth over the last ten years and this project is an integral part of FortisBC's system development plan. The OTR project will provide needed system enhancements, ensuring customers have safe and reliable power as residential areas and businesses centres continue to grow."

FortisBC anticipates that construction activity for the $141 million project will begin in the spring of 2009 and anticipates project completion in 2011.

"We remain committed to regular communication with local residents and surrounding communities and will make every effort to minimize disruption during construction," added Sam.

In its decision, the BCUC approved plans to upgrade the existing overhead transmission lines from 161kV to 230kV from Vaseux Lake south to Oliver, and Vaseux Lake north to Penticton, and the addition of a 230kV line from Vaseux Lake north to Penticton. The decision also approves the construction of a new electrical substation in Oliver east of the current station, and modifications to the current Oliver substation as well as the Vaseux and RG Anderson substations.