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HomeNewsNelson city council commits, conditionally, to $4.6 million hydro investment

Nelson city council commits, conditionally, to $4.6 million hydro investment

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Despite some concerns, Nelson city council has decided to cover up to $4.6 million for a battery energy storage system.

The system would help Nelson Hydro customers by storing power which is needed during the cold Kootenay winters. The system would store power during off-peak hours and deliver that back into the community, reducing the need to purchase outside energy.

This system, which was initially estimated to cost around $10 million, now looks to be projected at a cost of $16.7 million. 

Although the cost is higher than the initial estimate, Nelson Hydro says they are looking at grants from the federal and provincial governments which would keep the cost to the City of Nelson at $4.6 million. 

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“If the provincial and federal government partner with Nelson Hydro then we get to proceed forward,” councillor Keith Page says.

“If a partnership is established, it would mean a more reliable and responsive grid. This would also allow the grid to have backup capabilities.”

Technology is moving exponentially, and with advances in improving power performance as battery life degrades, there is a concern about the cost of replacement after 10-20 years, according to Page.

“As technology becomes available, and advances are made, we might look at adding more units 10 years down the line to help supplement the slow degradation of the current unit,” Page says

Mayor John Dooley voiced concerns about some of the risks associated with this project.

“One of the risks was the reporting back period,” says Dooley. “One of the amendments of this piece is that this comes back to council if the grant application falls.

“Environmental impact is a concern and this project will be scrutinized should we have to dispose of the batteries at the end of life.” 

With a ticket price of $4.6 million Dooley says “departments have adequate reserves to cover projects and there would be no taxation, but smart meters could be an option for homeowners.” Dooley said “this will be a way for people to keep track of their usage to better reduce their consumption, which would help reduce climate change.”

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