A before-and-after artist’s conception of a weir in place above the upper canyon on Springer Creek.

A before-and-after artist’s conception of a weir in place above the upper canyon on Springer Creek.

Village of Slocan commits to Springer Creek micro hydro project

More than four years in the making, the Village of Slocan has applied for a tenure on crown land and funding grants for the project.

The Village of Slocan council has renewed its commitment to the development of the Springer Creek micro hydro power project, with estimated costs of $3.4 million.

At its February meeting, council authorized the required work for successful development of the project based on environmental, engineering and economic studies which have been developed since 2010.

Mayor Jessica Lunn said the project will create a revenue stream to help fund community development.

“Council sees the project an alternative revenue source to replace the 60 per cent loss in industrial tax revenue base with the closure of the mill in 2011,” said Lunn. While she conceded that the revenue is small, it could help fund future planning for economic development and diversification.

The mill in downtown Slocan was demolished in 2014.

The project will involve a small weir structure on the creek and will not store water. A portion of a stream’s flow will be diverted into a pipe from Springer Creek in the upper canyon above the upper falls and will be returned to the creek before the lower falls near the campground. The drop in elevation of the diverted water will  spin a turbine and generate electricity.

An open house presentation last fall indicated a revised power line route and the water flow amounts are still subject to permitting approvals.

The Village expects the project to be generating as a revenue source beginning in 2016 and will be holding another public presentation about the project this spring.

Mike Walsh of SNT Engineering Ltd is coordinating the development permit approval process that was submitted to a variety of government agencies in January 2014.  FrontCounter BC accepted the application in mid January of this year. As required by the Land Act Waterpower Policy, the Village has advertised its Intention to Apply for a Disposition of Crown Land.

Patricia Dehnel, chief administrative officer for the Village of Slocan said the annual net revenue from the hydro project is projected to be $50,000.

“Energy produced by the project will be sold to BC  Hydro under the Standing Offer Program,” said Dehnel, who added that any employment opportunities will come in the construction stage and management/operations stage.

The Micro Hydro project costs are estimated to be $3.4 million.  New Building Funding application would be for 2/3 funding and the remaining 1/3 funds must be committed to and include identification of the source of the proponent’s share of the projects cost.

Dehnel recently wrote a report for council reporting that the town is in  “healthy financial situation” and has been saving for this project for a number of years.

“The Village does not have much debt,” the report read. “As interest rates are low at this time, it may be a good time to borrow money,” adding that a referendum is required for a short term five year borrowing period of over $650,000.

Council also committed to use a portion of its reserve fund and to apply for grants from other funders including Columbia Basin Trust, Southern Interior Beetle Action Coalition and Southern Interior Development Initiative Trust. They will also and borrow a maximum of $1.3 million dollars, that  requires a referendum, to secure the one third portion of Village funds in the New Building Canada Fund application to develop the project.