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Toad River no longer on its own for power

Toad River's temporary diesel station.

Posted by Sabrina Locicero

Toad River residents, BC Hydro, the Province and Northern Rockies Regional Municipality representatives gathered in northern B.C. last week to celebrate the completion of the Toad River electrification project, a first for BC Hydro's Remote Community Electrification Program.

Toad River is a small community of about 60 residents, located in the Northern Rockies about two hours west of Fort Nelson on the Alaska Highway. It is not connected to the BC Hydro grid and residents had been self-reliant to power their homes and businesses before the project.

Northern Rockies Regional Municipality Mayor Bill Streeper accepts the ceremonial payment for the distribution line from BC Hydro's Donia Snow.  

Providing electricity to Toad River has been a high priority for BC Hydro. On October 31, temporary diesel units began powering the community. BC Hydro, Toad River residents and visiting dignitaries celebrated the milestone last Saturday, November 21.

The construction of a central power generating station and distribution line system for Toad River is a first for the Remote Community Electrification Program. This vision became a reality, not just by the support of the British Columbia Utilities Commission, but also with the collaborative input of the community, the region, the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, the Liard First Nation and BC Hydro. Much of Hydro's work involved the development of process and policies for the overall program, providing a strong foundation for future projects.

BC Hydro Remote Community Relations Manager Grietje Van Dijk, Chief Liard McMillan and Linda McDonald from the Liard First Nation, which provided valuable input into the design of the diesel generating station.  

"One of the accomplishments of this project is the relationships that BC Hydro built with Northern Rockies Regional Municipality staff, Toad River residents and the Liard First Nation," says Donia Snow, BC Hydro's senior general manager of distribution operations. "The process was lengthy and wasn't always easy. It took vision, patience, trust and collaboration to get us to this point. And we believe the process resulted in a strong foundation for ongoing relationships."

The municipality completed the construction of the distribution line in the spring of this year.

Temporary station to be replaced

The temporary diesel station, located on the Toad River Lodge property, became operational on October 31 and BC Hydro now provides Toad River with reliable power, at low cost, for generations.

Next summer, the temporary station will be replaced with a permanent three-unit plant, located a short distance from the town. There are about 13 kilometres of distribution line in Toad River, serving 30 residential and commercial customers.

Now that Toad River has more reliable electricity, BC Hydro will continue to explore alternative energy possibilities to help reduce diesel fuel consumption, as well as promoting Power Smart.

"This project serves as an example of how BC Hydro can work with regional governments, First Nations and the community to make remote community electrification successful," adds Donia.