Friday, June 16, 2023

BC Hydro to call for clean energy Independent Power Producers in 2024; may be window of opportunity for City of Prince Rupert's Woodworth Dam

The ability to generate hydro from the Woodworth Dam
could be of interest to the BC Gov't and BC Hydro
through a new quest for Independent Power Providers 

A window may be about to open for the City of Prince Rupert to put the hydro generating component of the new Woodworth Dam to work towards revenue generation, that coming out of a provincial government announcement on Thursday related to future energy acquisition for BC Hydro.

The announcement marking the first indication of a return to partnerships and additional hydro source since BC Hydro suspended the project back in 2018.

Premier David Eby speaking to the topic yesterday noted that the fight on climate change will require affordable clean power options along with how it could bring a partnership role for the province's First Nations.

“As we face the threat of a record fire season across Canada, the need to switch to clean power to fight climate change has never felt more urgent. The good news is that from electric cars to electrified heavy industry, British Columbians are taking action. To guarantee the affordable power for this important transition, we’re working in partnership with First Nations and BC Hydro to generate more of the clean electricity that British Columbia needs to build our economy, and grow our role as a clean-energy superpower.”

The Woodworth Dam was put back into service and hooked up to the city's water supply in February this year, but sitting ready for action, should the opportunity arrive is also a hydro generating capacity.

That element, was a key note from the 2018 Hays 2.0 presentation from then Mayor Lee Brain, who observed of the potential opportunity for the city.

"So we have really smart engineers who have thought, you know what. Why don't we produce power out of this new dam? So that's  actually what were designing into the dam. We're going to design the dam in a way that can produce energy which means we could potentially generate revenue for this community off that hydro electric project" -- Former Mayor Lee Brain in 2018 on the Woodworth Dam hydro potential

 (see the presentation piece at 58 minutes of that public event). 

That hydro element however, never made for much in the way of additional focus from subsequent updates towards the primary purpose for the Dam that of securing the city's water supply.

Should the City hope to get in the province's plans for its Independent Power Production call, there will be a need for a bit more information from the province and BC Hydro towards the initiative before Prince Rupert might want to start counting on the revenue stream.  

In the announcement of Thursday much of the focus on the Independent Power plans is that of partnerships with Indigenous Nations.

“First Nations are key partners as we work to power B.C.’s growing clean economy with clean, renewable electricity. Funding for the B.C. Indigenous Clean Energy Initiative will open up new opportunities for First Nations in clean-energy projects, including wind and solar, create local jobs, and support Indigenous self-determination.” -- Josie Osborne, Minister of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation. 

The City will need to learn more from the province between now and the Spring of 2024, to determine if there's space in the upcoming BC Hydro energy call.  

That for a municipally owned energy resource looking for somewhere to send hydro electricity that could be turned on from the Dam.

The full information release from the BC Government can be reviewed here.

More background on the Woodworth dam can be explored in our Major Projects archive.

A wider overview of Provincial themes can be reviewed from our Legislature notes.


  1. Wait, are you admitting that the City isn’t totally incompetent?

  2. What will the cost be to initiate this venture. There is purchase of the generating equipment. Installation of it. Connection to the gird. Projected Maintenace, along with who is going to run it. Costs associated with running it.
    Finally projected return.
    The city went ahead with modifications to the tune of 10 m which we borrowed with none of this costing done.

    Costing should be done on this prior to commitment.

  3. As a long time reader I don't see NCR as regarding the City as being "totally incompetent". Sometimes NCR suggests that more information would be helpful or that things are not quite as presented by the City. Those articles quite often, even predictably, elicit extreme or vitriolic responses which can be difficult to make sense of sometimes. Much the same happens when NCR covers Port issues.

  4. The city can't sell any power from woodworth to hydro unless the conservancy for the area is cancelled or the ban on hydro power in conservancies is scrapped. Both of those would be changes to BC laws so need to come from the legislature.