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Strathcona Regional District re-awakening dormant Upper Campbell Lake electrification project

Project was stalled in 2015 due to budget constraints
Upper Campbell Lake reservoir behind the Strathcona Dam. File photo

The Strathcona Regional District is rekindling interest in electrifying homes and properties along Upper Campbell Lake.

The project, which was to bring electricity to the homes in the area near Strathcona Park Lodge between Campbell River and Gold River was put on hold indefinitely due to budget constraints in 2015. The project was part of the BC Hydro Remote Community Electrification Program, which before it was curtailed in 2015 had brought electricity to eight communities — seven Indigenous and one other rural community. The Crown corporation had been working with 11 more communities when the program was shut down.

During the Strathcona Lodge’s June 26, 2023 public meeting, residents of the area said that they were still interested in a BC Hydro hook up. Area D Director John Rice attended that meeting, and reported back to the board in July of last year.

Now, the SRD informed residents on its website that it “continues to advocate for progress on this file.”

The post says that the regional district has corresponded with BC Hydro about why the program was cancelled in 2015, obtained cost estimates of $6 million for the project, and looked into other funding sources for the program.

“According to BC Hydro, the electrification project was cancelled in 2015 because all of the funds earmarked for supporting such extension projects had been allocated elsewhere,” the post says. It continues, saying that BC Hydro is estimating the cost to the SRD for an update to the 2015 design would be be $726,000 “which appears to be at odds with the $5,000 shown on BC Hydro’s website for similar projects.”

The report also says that BC Hydro informed the SRD the project could fall under the Uneconomic Extension Allowance, which lets BC Hydro assist with connecting homes to the grid where infrastructure does not currently exist, “but this cannot be verified until after the system extension design has been completed and the number of potential customers has been confirmed.”

To pursue other avenues of funding to help offset costs required from residents, the SRD said it “would be useful to update the number of primary and seasonal residences that could be served by the extension project.”

However, before committing to moving forward with the project, the SRD said in the report that a meeting to determine the amount of interest would be the next step.

Those interested in expressing interest in a meeting with the regional district about the project can do so at the SRD website here.

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Marc Kitteringham

About the Author: Marc Kitteringham

I joined Black press in early 2020, writing about the environment, housing, local government and more.
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