More power generation must be made in-house in Nelson and to develop more hydro-electric possibilities around city sooner, rather than later, says one city councillor.
Keith Page said — during a city council budget meeting Dec. 17 — that, after spending a few years studying the potential for more hydro-electric power generation on its water sources, the time has come for the city to move those ideas to the front burner.
“What I would love to see is the positioning from this table to (Nelson) Hydro to say ‘Where are we going to bring on new generation’ and to say that is a priority,” he said.
He pointed to the work done in investigating the potential for power generation on Five Mile Creek, one of the city’s water sources.
“I would say over the next five to 10 years it needs to be a strategic priority of (Nelson) Hydro to bring on more generation and fill some of that gap, because we know that the power demands are just going to increase and our pressures there will continue to increase,” he continued.
“And I think, as a community, it is super tied to our soul we need to be out there with (our own) power generation.”
Chief financial officer Colin McClure said Five Mile Creek could have a secondary pipe installed, in addition to the intake line, for power generation.
“There will be enough head on the … line coming into Mountain Station that it would be worthwhile putting in generation,” he said during the budget meeting.
The city will need to contract engineers to look at the route in detail, its placement and where it would have the greatest amount of gravity coming in to generate power, McClure explained.
City manager Kevin Cormack said the city had investigated all of its water sources to determine which ones had the greatest potential, and sized the some facilities to accommodate power generation in the future.
“But they do need, right now, grant funding to make them viable. They are not viable from a strictly cost benefit analysis from a Nelson Hydro perspective,” he said.
Coun. Rik Logtenberg — who also called for the city to develop more power generation — asked if funding was the limiting factor in moving on the idea or were there other constraints.
“Even if we got the grant money could we start work on it? Do we have the staff resources?” he asked.
“All that (work) would be contracted out,” said Cormack, adding that council could draw in Nelson Hydro general manager Scott Spencer to let council know which water systems had the greatest potential.
Mayor John Dooley agreed that the city could reboot the power generation project and look again at a number of opportunities.
Both Page and Logtenberg said power generation should be a top two priority so the city can be ready to act when the grants come in.
“We will pull that together in the New Year on the options for green energy and power generation,” said Dooley.
The cost of water
The amount Nelsonites pay for water service — coming and going — in 2022 is likely going to go up.
City council was “okay” with a 1.5 per cent increase to the wastewater rates for 2022, it was noted during budget discussions on Dec. 17. That represents a rise of $11 for the average home ($699 to $710).
As well, water rates will be rising by two per cent — a $7 increase on the average bill ($372 to $379). Overall, that adds a 1.7 per cent increase to the water and sewer bill, rising by $18 on the average home bill to $1,089 per year.
• Costs will likely rise at a much greater rate in the future when the city overhauls its wastewater treatment plant. Currently, the city is waiting on a master plan to be completed (in late 2022) and that will guide the city on what type of upgrades will be needed for the wastewater treatment plant.