A proposed small-scale hydro project for Shannon Creek near Avola could help provide the Valley with a more secure energy supply. That’s according to consultant Wes Bieber during a presentation made during a meeting of the Thompson Headwaters (TNRD Area B) services committee meeting last Tuesday in Avola.
“To me, this is what the Green Energy program was originally all about – small scale, low impact and locally based,” he said.
With an estimated price tag of $5 million, the project would provide employment for local workers and contractors during its construction phase, and likely at least one full-time maintenance job thereafter.
It could even help the coho salmon that use the lower stretch of the creek as a rearing channel.
The creek is just one of several in the vicinity that the company he’s working for, Soler Logging, have identified as possible micro-hydro sites, said Bieber.
Soler Logging’s owners, Kim and Dale Miller, have worked in the Valley for 32 years.
The criteria they used to select the possible sites included a large elevation drop that they could use to develop high pressure for the turbines, a lake or lakes near the source that would even out the stream flow plus reduce the turbidity during high water, no fish in the portion of the creek to be diverted, places to put infrastructure that was not on a floodplain or alluvial fan, and close access to BC Hydro’s transmission line.
Initial hydrological data collected over a period of 1-1/2 years indicates the Shannon Creek site would be suitable for a 2-1/2 megawatt generator, said Bieber.
In comparison, the Bone Creek hydro project north of Blue River operated by TransAlta produces 19 megawatts of power – enough for about 4,500 homes.
The Bone Creek project has a seven foot penstock while Shannon Creek would have one just one foot in diameter.
Shannon Creek has a lake near its source. Damming the creek possibly could enlarge this. This would enable to power plant to run more consistently through the year. More consistent stream flows also would benefit the coho rearing area near the creek’s mouth.
Water from nearby Carole Creek possibly could be diverted into Shannon Creek, further adding to the project’s capacity.
The electricity generated would be sold to BC Hydro under its Green Power program.
The connection likely would be made at the existing sub-station in Avola.
All the water used to generate electricity would be returned to the creek after use. During times of extreme low water the power plant would shut down to ensure minimal water flows continue in the creek bed.
An application for water licenses for the Shannon Creek project recently appeared in the Times.
If all approvals are received as anticipated, construction could begin next year, Bieber said.