Mica Dam was operational on March 29, 1973. The dam was built to a height of 801 ft above bedrock, near the first location of the village Mica Creek. At the time, the dam was one of three storage dams built by the provincial power company BC Hydro, within the description of the Columbia River Treaty. The dam operated with a 165 sq mi reservoir containing 12,000,000 acre-ft of live storage and 20,100,000 acre-ft of total storage in McNaughton Lake (later renamed Kinbasket Lake).
The underground powerhouse, begun in 1973 was built to be 177 ft high, 79 ft wide and 778 ft long. In 1976, the first two electrical generators were commissioned and in 1977 two more were completed bringing the total capacity of the powerhouse to 1,805 MW. Another two 500 MW generators are scheduled to be added and operational in 2014 and in 2015, for a total generating capacity of 2,805 MW. The Mica powerhouse delivers its power to Nicola Substation via a 500-kilovolt, 350 mi transmission line. A second power transmission line for hydroelectric power was built to the Meridian Substation near Port Moody, British Columbia.
Mica Dam was built to provide 7,000,000 acre-ft of water storage as outlined in the Columbia River Treaty, plus another 5,000,000 acre-ft, referred to as “non-Treaty storage”. Since 1977 BC Hydro and the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) have made a series of long and short term agreements for using non-Treaty storage. Negotiations for a new long-term agreement began in 2011. If implemented, it would manage non-Treaty storage until 2024.
At the time it was the Company’s largest project and the largest single project in North America.