No forseeable islanding for the North

Port Hardy Councillor Rick Marcotte thinks there should be a system in place where both wind and hydro-electric power can be redirected.

District of Port Hardy Councillor Rick Marcotte believes there should be a backup system in place for when BC Hydro power is knocked out.

Marcotte raised the issue at the District regular council meeting Nov. 8.

Marcotte said the North Island is producing both wind and hydro-electric power and there should be a system in place where that power can be redirected to the North Island in the event of a BC Hydro outage.

The Kokish River hydroelectric facility is owned and operated by Kwagis Power, a partnership between Brookfield Renewable and the ‘Namgis First Nation. Commissioned in 2014, Kokish has a capacity of 45 megawatts, enough energy to power 13,000 homes each year.

The Cape Scott Wind Farm generates 290 gigawatt hours of clean energy, enough to power 30,000 homes. The fact that there is nothing in place to access this power “is very disturbing to me,” Marcotte said.

Councillor Fred Robertson said that essentially wind turbines are owned by independent power producers, which creates different circumstances than if they were owned by BC Hydro.

Robertson agreed that “we could be on multiple loops where if one fails, everything kicks in.”

Mayor Hank Bood said the situation is “not necessarily (one that is) easily remedied, adding that he wondered what the cost was for businesses, etc. on the North Island to have been without power for an entire day.

Council directed administration to look into the issue and their findings will be brought to a future committee of the whole meeting for discussion.

According to Ted Olynyk, manager of community relations for BC Hydro, relying on supply from a small power facility that is in a jurisdiction when its regular supply is interrupted is called ‘islanding’.

“The capability for islanding on northern Vancouver Island is a very complex issue,” said Olynyk.

“Typically, wind farms and other independent power producers (IPPs) that connect to the grid are not designed to operate without grid power. The grid provides balance,” he said. “In order to operate without grid connection, the wind farm or other IPP would need to install special equipment and controls which can be very costly.”

Olynyk said energy storage is also usually required to maintain acceptable power quality to our customers, because of fluctuations in the wind power