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Climate change ‘covered’ in new Nelson Hydro asset management plan

A key component of asset management is data collection and analysis so Nelson Hydro can make data-driven decisions going forward.

The far-reaching effects of climate change on Nelson Hydro operations will be governed by a newly-minted asset management plan, says the city owned utility’s general manager.

Scott Spencer replied to Coun. Rik Logtenberg’s question about how Nelson Hydro’s new Hydroelectric Asset Management Policy would help in gaining forecast on climate impacts — such as high intensity rain events, mudslides, wind storms — to avoid the forces of nature from wiping out sections of the city’s grid.

“How do you plan to forecast or anticipate those kinds of events?” he asked Spencer on Tuesday night during the regular business meeting of elected officials in council chambers.

A key component of asset management is data collection and analysis so Nelson Hydro can make those data-driven decisions going forward, Spencer began.

“While we don’t know what the future looks like, we can start to see trends with some of that data,” he said. “One of the things we included in the (plan) principles is also looking at that climate lens as part of a consideration for all asset decisions.

“So, having that principle as part of the asset management policy helps guide the Nelson Hydro tram now and into the future to make sure we are thinking about that long term effect and what decision s we need to make today in order to mitigate issues in the future.”

Spencer and Charlie Hogarth, METSCO Energy Solutions, said the plan had a broader framework that could potentially be implemented by Nelson Hydro.

“It is really the City of Nelson’s strategic plan that trickles down and influences a lot of the strategic planning and objectives of the utility itself,” Hogarth said.

Hydro with a plan

The plan is intended to present the key asset management principles for which Nelson Hydro will apply to its assets to achieve its business objectives and strategic plans.

“This policy will provide a guide for Nelson Hydro employees and any stakeholders inquiring about asset management practices, responsibilities, and supporting policies and plans within the organization,” Spencer wrote in his report to council.

The policy was developed using supporting information from generally accepted asset management and industry best practices.

The policy is the “cornerstone” of the multi-year Nelson Hydro asset management program and lays the foundation for the condition assessment, performance data, and developing an asset management plan for generation and substation assets, the report to council read.

Purpose and scope

The asset management policy formalizes Nelson Hydro’s commitment to asset management and is intended to present the key asset management principles for which Hydro will apply to its assets to achieve its business objectives and strategic plans.

The policy will also provide a guide for Hydro employees and any interested parties inquiring about asset management practices, responsibilities and supporting policies and plans within the organization.

The assets included in the scope of the policy are any physical and digital network assets relating to the provision of electrical generation, transmission and distribution services to the City of Nelson and the Nelson Hydro service territory.

Source: Nelson Hydro

Coun. Jesse Woodward wondered how the system could be ‘hardened” in order to prevent power outages related to nature and climate change in the future.

“By creating the asset management framework we are giving ourselves the data and the information to be able to make those decisions so it’s not just ‘what’s the latest thing that has just come out,’ we are actually looking at the data and saying ‘where do we need to invest our money?’ because we don’t have unlimited capital,”  Spencer said.

“We want to make sure we are making good data-driven decisions on a daily basis and also consider the future.”

Policy benefits

There are multiple benefits in implementing an asset management policy:

• cost savings and prudent capital spending on the utility assets leading to improved reliability;

• better data to inform decision-making on capital and maintenance investments;

• higher customer satisfaction through reliability and cost saving gains;

• increased health and safety performance and decreased environmental risk;

• facilitates climate strategy initiatives and green technologies on to the grid;

• Clearer real time insights;

• Signifies commitment to asset management as an input to the City of Nelson’s business planning; and

• Builds awareness and sets clear expectations for the utility's assets.

Source: Nelson Hydro