After a year of black outs, brown outs and record draws to the power grid, the Strathcona Regional District board has power grid resiliency on its radar.
The regional district put forward three topics it wants to discuss with BC Hydro at the 2022 UBCM (Union of B.C. Municipalities) convention in September. The convention gives local governments the chance to discuss matters of import to them amongst each other, other agencies like BC Hydro and higher levels of government. The convention also gives local governments the chance to have smaller meetings with other organizations.
Ensuring the power grid is resilient in the face of myriad crises is important to the regional district. At least three directors put forward ideas relating to that topic.
Cortes Island Director Noba Anderson brought up the idea of creating micro-grids for smaller communities and even neighbourhoods. Tahsis Director Martin Davis had a similar idea regarding the concept of “islanding power,” which effectively decentralizes the grid of a particular area. That way if one community has a disruption, for example Gold River, the next community up the line, in this case Tahsis, would still potentially have access to the grid.
“We lost power for a week this spring, and it cost the village a fair bit of money,” Davis said. “When power goes out in one direction…we could continue to draw power from other sources.”
Campbell River director Charlie Cornfield had a few ideas regarding resiliency: namely increasing awareness of personal power generation, particularly for homes equipped with smart meters. and working to ensure that Vancouver Island produces enough power to be self-sufficient.
“With the decreasing costs of solar panels, the use of windmills for residential…we were told if you added additional power generation the (smart) meters were smart enough that they would read what was being generated and you could decrease your hydro consumption and your bill,” he said.
Another solution could be creating localized Run of the River projects, which are essentially canals fitted with turbines.
“The government keeps talking about resiliency. If we want resiliency we need more power production,” said Davis. “If we have more catastrophic power failures, it’s really going to be a problem.”
Davis also wanted to discuss improving the EV charging network within the region, saying that neighbouring areas like Mt. Waddington Regional District has been making moves in that direction.
“There are some areas that are seriously underrepresented right now,” he said.
Cortes Island Director Jim Abram’s idea was more immediate: tree maintenance and line clearing. Downed branches wreaked havoc on the BC Hydro lines this winter, leaving communities without power through snowstorms. Sayward director Mark Baker agreed, saying that “(BC) Hydro needs to be more proactive than reactive.”