Power to the people of the Lardeau Valley

·2 min read

The simplest way to solve the Lardeau Valley’s chronic power problems might be to just give every house in the region a backup generator.

That’s the (somewhat over-simplified) conclusion of a study into ongoing problems with power service in the region.

The report, compiled by Rocky Point Engineering for the Lardeau Valley Opportunity Links Society, looked at several solutions to the issue.

The area, north of Kaslo, is currently served by a single radial BC Hydro distribution line via the FortisBC electrical service area. It’s prone to frequent power outages that can last for days.

One solution, says the consultant, would be to work with BC Hydro to improve the reliability of the existing system.

“This could involve increased vegetation clearance, improving response times, adding a redundant line, or rerouting the distribution line either underground or underwater,” it says. “It would be up to BC Hydro whether any of these options were implemented, and generally they could be done in conjunction with the other options mentioned below.”

The next solution involves creating a microgrid or virtual power plant (VPP) in the region for backup power and providing the infrastructure to island the region from the main grid during an outage. The report says this could be done either as a single system encompassing the entire valley, or as a series of discrete subsystems for each centre in the valley.

“This type of system would be quite expensive, and a more in-depth study would be required to determine the feasibility and optimal design,” the report says. The advantages are that it would have a minimal environmental footprint, and could provide a revenue stream for the region.

The report recommends looking into this system further in the future.

“The last option would be to provide discrete backup power for each residence and business in the valley, which might be feasible because of the low population in the valley,” it says.

This backup power could take the form of a diesel or propane generator, or could use battery storage either alone or in combination with alternative energy generation.

These power systems could be sized either to back up an entire house, or else a limited number of circuits for critical loads such as well pump, food storage and lights.

The board received the report as information, and Area D Director Aimee Watson said she’d be contacting power companies and arranging public meetings in the area to discuss the ideas further.

John Boivin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Valley Voice