The Brilliant Dam and Generating Station were purchased for $130 million in 1996 from Cominco (now Teck). $100 million has been invested in capital upgrade projects and life extension work. The Brilliant Generating Station continues to produce clean, renewable, cost-effective power for all British Columbians and is considered to be one of Canada’s most reliable facilities by Navigant Consulting.
At the time of purchase, the Brilliant Generating Station was capable of producing 125 megawatts of electricity. Since the acquisition, a series of capital improvements to both the dam and the powerhouse have been undertaken. These projects include concrete rehabilitation, switch-yard replacement, spillway gate refurbishment, seismic stabilization, and a generation re-powering life extension program.
Columbia Power manages all improvement projects on behalf of the owners and continues to manage the operations of this facility and oversees all maintenance working together with their contractor, FortisBC.
Columbia Power Brilliant Expansion
The Brilliant Expansion Project saw the addition second powerhouse located immediately downstream of the Brilliant Dam on the Kootenay River. The expansion shares the existing hydraulic head and generates power from water that would otherwise be spilled. Output from the expansion is linked to the Brilliant Terminal Station and later is delivered to BC Hydro’s Selkirk Substation through a 34 km transmission line. The facility produces clean, renewable, cost effective, energy for all British Columbians.
At the peak of construction, over 400 people were working directly on the project. Of those 400 people over 85 per cent were local residents (from within 100km of the project). Over $50 million was paid in wages and over $44 million was injected into the local economy through the purchase of goods and services.
During construction the owners met monthly with a Community Impact Management Committee (CIMC), consisting of local residents, members of local and regional government, first nations, and the contractors. These stakeholders provided ongoing support to encourage positive community impacts and benefits and relay community concerns resulting from construction of the project. The CIMC oversaw an independent socio-economic monitor who produced public reports.
The project was committed to a high standard of quality, safety and environmental stewardship.
Nelson Community Solar Garden
Nelson celebrated the launch of Canada’s first community solar garden in June 2017. A community solar garden is a centralized solar array where members of the community have invested in the solar energy production on a per panel basis. The solar energy that is generated by the system is credited to the subscriber’s electricity bills in proportion to their investment on an annual basis for 25 years. The project has been developed through Nelson Hydro’s EcoSave Energy Retrofits Program.
The solar array is installed above the Nelson Hydro Generation Station in Bonnington, just outside of Nelson. The size is approximately 60kW, and consists of 248 solar modules. The system feeds into the Nelson Hydro grid and is part of Nelson Hydro’s capital assets.
The system is fully subscribed with investors varying from renters, homeowners, business owners, some of Nelson’s Co ops, several churches, our local schools and the local college. These investors will be receiving a credit on their Nelson Hydro electric bill once per year in proportion to their investment for 25 years. This is a first of its kind in Canada, the project is similar to Nelson Hydro’s net metering program and is referred to as virtual net metering.
Nelson Hydro Power Plant
Nelson Hydro is a City of Nelson owned and operated utility, and is the local supply authority for electrical service in the City of Nelson and surrounding area. The Nelson Hydro service area covers from the Nelson Hydro Power Plant on Kootenay River to the west, Blewett, Taghum, Sproule and Grohman Creek, the City of Nelson, Hightway 6 south towards Salmo to Perrier Road and beyond, north and east along Kootenay Lake to Harrop – Procter, Balfour, Queens Bay and terminating at Coffee Creek north of Queens Bay along Kootenay Lake.
Nelson Hydro connects to the FortisBC system at Coffee Creek, the Nelson Hydro Power Plant at Bonnington and at the Granite Substation in the Rosemont area in the City of Nelson. Nelson Hydro is very unique in that it is one of the few Municipally owned and operated utilities to have its own generation, transmission and distribution systems.
The Waneta Dam was originally constructed in 1954 to generate power specifically for use at the Trail smelter. Generating units at the dam have a capacity of approximately 490 Megawatts and currently produce approximately 2,670 Gigawatt hours per year.
In 2018, BC Hydro confirmed its $1.2 billion purchase of the Waneta Dam. “The purchase provides ongoing financial benefits to BC Hydro, helping to keep rates affordable for our customers,” said Chris O’Riley, BC Hydro President and Chief Operating Officer. “Through a 20-year lease agreement with Teck, two-thirds will be leased back to Teck and one-third will continue to supply BC Hydro customers.”
The purchase provides BC Hydro with an additional source of clean, reliable power at a cost-effective price that is expected to provide beneficial financial impacts and help keep rates affordable. With this purchase, BC Hydro will have complete ownership of the dam and the Waneta Generating Station. The purchase includes a 20-year lease agreement where two-thirds interest currently owned by Teck will be leased to Teck, and one-third will continue to supply BC Hydro customers.