Third run-of-river hydro power project starts for Tla-o-qui-aht

A third runof-river hydro development project for the Tla-o-qui-aht was announced last week.

Mark Strahl, Member of Parliament for Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development announced that the Government of Canada is investing in the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation’s latest run-of-river hydro development project.

The Winchie Creek Hydro project involves building a small weir across the waterway which directs water towards an intake point.

Run-of-river hydro power is a renewable electricity generating option which is different from conventional storage hydro as it uses natural elevation and part of the natural flow of a stream to create power.

This water is allowed to fall through a pipe or penstock down to a powerhouse where it spins turbines to create electricity. The water is then channelled out of the powerhouse so that it can rejoin the river.

Federal funding will help fund the professional and technical costs associated with the development of the Winchie Creek Hydro project. These works include project planning, hydrology/environmental studies, and engineering designs. Once constructed, Winchie Creek Hydro has the potential to generate 10.5 gigawatt hour (GWh) of renewable energy annually and create over 187 direct and indirect jobs.

As part of Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation’s economic development focus on renewable energy, the Winchie Creek Hydro project is the third run-of-river facility undertaken by the community. The first, Canoe Creek Hydro, has been in operation since 2010. The second facility, Haa-ak-suuk Creek Hydro, is nearing completion.

“This green energy project within our Hawiihs’ hahoulthee fits well within our Economic Development business plan and contributes to our goal of diversifying our economy,” said Francis Frank, Tla-o-qui-aht chief councillor. “Building a balanced and diversified economy is vital to the success of moving forward toward our goal of being a self sustaining Nation.”

The Government’s contribution of $554,487 was made under AANDC’s Community Opportunity Readiness Program (CORP) which provides project-based funding to First Nation and Inuit Communities in support of their pursuit of economic opportunities. “Our government’s participation in this project is a direct result of our commitment to taking concrete steps to create the conditions for stronger, healthier, more self-sufficient First Nation communities,” said Dr. James Lunney, outgoing Member of Parliament for Nanaimo-Alberni.