Columbia Power seeks public input from Greater Trail

With the end in sight for the Waneta Dam expansion project, Columbia Power has turned to the public to get an idea of what to do next.

Consider it a make work project.

With the end in sight for the Waneta Dam expansion project in early 2015, Columbia Power has turned to the public to get an idea of what to do next.

Columbia Power executive director Jane Bird said the start of the Waneta project signalled the completion of the Crown company’s original mandate—dating back 16 years ago—to develop three core power projects.

And with Waneta started, and the Brilliant expansion and the Arrow Lakes generating station completed, a new plan needs to be developed for the commercial Crown corporation.

Bird said the five-year plan has to be accountable to the shareholders, the province of B.C and its people.

“As a company we have had to ask what is our strategy to take us through the next five years and beyond,” she told Trail city council in its last meeting of 2012.

“It tells us whether it makes sense to continue to invest in these projects like an Elko Dam, for example.”

The plan would show Columbia Power how to re-invest in hydroelectric power generation in the area, she added.

A plan would also allow Columbia Power to proceed to undertake feasibility work to assess the commercial and environmental viability of potential projects, determine the level of interest of possible partners, assemble human resources and undertake further consultation on specific projects.

As a result, Columbia Power embarked on a public consultation project to gather feedback and insight from the public.

Through a 12-page booklet, Columbia Power has invited feedback on its strategy.

It is available at libraries and community centres in Trail and Castlegar, as well as online at

Bird said the company intends to build on its strengths in the strategy and continue to develop and operate hydroelectric generation projects in the Columbia Basin.

“We intend to capitalize on our key strengths, including low overheads, hydro project management expertise—particularly in design/build contracts—strong support from local government, the community and First Nations, and our tradition of partnering: with BC Hydro, Columbia Basin Trust and Fortis,” she said.

Specifically, the strategy over the next five years for Columbia Power includes: finishing Waneta—safely, on time and on budget—reinvesting income from existing facilities in new hydro generation projects in the Columbia Basin, and continue to use income to pay dividends to the province and to B.C. Taxpayers.