The Klahoose Wilderness Resort in Homfray Channel is going to be even more of an idyllic eco-getaway soon, once the diesel generators get turned off.
The Qathen Xwegus Management Corporation (QXMC) announced this week that thanks to grant funding, the Klahoose First Nation-run eco-resort will be transitioning to 100 per cent clean energy. QXMC is the business arm of the Klahoose First Nation. That means that after the required upgrades are complete, the resort will be able to turn off diesel generators and generate all of their electricity on the flow of a nearby creek.
“One of the cool things that the lodge came with was a licence to generate hydroelectric power,” said QXMC operations manager Paul Muskee. “The lodge came with a very rudimentary generation wheel. It was a little pelton wheel, but it was only enough to keep the lights on for a caretaker. It’s not very high tech.”
The plan is to update that rudimentary operation so that it can provide all of the resort’s electricity needs, even through fluctuating power cycles and changes in the creek’s flow. That will be done by upgrading the intake of the system to allow in more water as well as adding some storage tanks and batteries so the staff can adapt to the real-world conditions.
“The vision… was to build something where we could have water tanks on the side where we can harness the water more efficiently and monitor and adjust the consumption and production of electricity for if we’re going through droughts or freezing periods that reduce the water flow,” said general manager Bruno Pereira.
“The pipe inlet is just six inches, it would be able to steadily produce 15 kilowatts of clean energy,” Muskee said. “Then by storing that, it enables us to meet the peaks, highs and lows, of demand. There’s high demand usually around dinnertime when there are dishwashers running and all that kind of thing… storing it the system will feed clean power instead of fluctuating power.
“You’re always wrecking electronics and stuff with generator or rudimentary systems,” he said. “The power’s not that clean. Instead of surging and stuff this will feed a very clean power stream.”
Funding for the project comes from the province’s First Nations Clean Energy Business Fund. Since the QXMC had already been interested in doing this kind of project, they decided to do a feasibility study themselves. After reaching out to local contractors they came up with a feasible plan and the funding was approved.
“We took on the feasibility part ourselves and invested in that,” Muskee said. “Maybe they liked that. We’re pretty motivated to do this anyways.”
Both Muskee and Pereira are interested to see how the project goes, especially whether or not the idea can be expanded to other similar facilities in the area.
“It definitely helps us in creating the relationship with the contractors,” Pereira said. “We did purchase the Gorge on Cortes and we do operate forestry in Toba. It won’t be the same if we replicate it, but it’s definitely a good experience.”
QXMC is looking to get started on the project right away, pending COVID-19 restrictions in order to have it ready for next tourism season. They hope that the eco-friendly power generation system only adds to the resort’s allure.
“Being able to shut off the diesel generator and run off the creek is going to be a huge benefit,” said Muskee. “In addition to saving the cost of diesel and producing free, clean energy, it’ll also be a huge attractant for the type of guests that comer to the lodge.”