What does a megawatt mean to you? How does another run-of-the-river project affect your life or community? These are some of the questions that might be asked while looking at the development of Jimmie Creek in the Toba Inlet Valley. Chief James Delorme, Council members Billy Barnes and Kevin Peacey of the Klahoose First Nation; members of the Qathen Xwegus Management Corporation; Chief Clint Williams of Tla’ Amin; and Alterra Power Corp., did a tour of the Jimmie Creek Power Project late September to overlook the progress since November 2014.
The power of water has always been a miracle for mankind. It has sustained human life for time immemorial and has reminded us of the dangers of Mother Nature. Technology and time have brought a new respect for mankind: the energy that can be honed from its raw power. Chief James Delorme says, “Own source revenue from Green Energy projects like this and our Toba Montrose Project brings Klahoose a new level of success for generations to come.” The Jimmie Creek project currently employs 43 Klahoose band members and 11 other First Nations people.
The project begins at the intake, which is a large structure that hosts the entrance for the water to flow through the penstock pipes. The structure itself is mostly made of concrete. However, the years of work experience and research in the Toba Valley has discovered that the rock tends to be relatively weak and easily deteriorates over time. Since water will be constantly flowing past and through this concrete structure a different type of rock was required to be mixed into the cement to build the intake infrastructure. Rock was shipped up to the project site specifically for cement mixing. In order for the construction of the intake the water flow from Jimmie Creek had to be diverted from its natural path with a temporary dam. The contractor in charge of the dam has water pumps running 24/7 to deal with any leakage not to disturb or interfere with the intake construction. Once the project is completed the temporary dam will be taken out and Jimmie Creek will flow through the penstock pipe down to the powerhouse.
The installation of penstock pipes has had significant progress in making its way down the Toba Valley towards the Powerhouse. The penstock will run a total distance of 2.8 kilometres and will be made up of 185 different sections. Depending on where in the 2.8 kilometres of penstock they range in size from 12 metres to 18 metres long (40-60 ft). The intake takes the water in and it travels through the penstock pipes, which for the most part are underground, and heads towards the Powerhouse. At the intake when the water first enters the piping it is at its least amount of pressure. This means that the penstock piping at the intake is thinner and gradually gets thicker as it reaches the powerhouse. The steel penstock pipes at the powerhouse are over 25mm (1 inch) thick to withstand the pressure of water flow year round. At the powerhouse is where the turbines will be producing the energy from the water flow of Jimmie Creek. Jason Sirois, Owner Site Representative at Alterra Power Corp., was present for a part of their construction in India. He was there for some of the pressurization testing to ensure the seals were in place and the pumps were working properly. The turbines were held up in travel due to the permits that were needed to transport them from India and to be shipped away. And due to insurance policies the turbines were required to be shipped to Canada on two separate ships, but nonetheless the turbines are on their way.
In order for a project like this to happen successfully a great group of professions are required to devote their time, their energy, and input. For anyone that has worked in a camp like this understands that at times more than half of his or her life is spent in camp during the project; these types of projects build a community. So what does a megawatt mean to you? It means jobs and employment, economic development, planning, mechanical and electrical engineering, support for many Klahoose business interests and much much more. In the end the Jimmie Creek run-of-the-river project will produce 62 megawatts of power at any given time. The energy is measured in Megawatt Hours (MWh) – operating for one hour at 62 Megawatts (62 MWh) of power. In one year the Jimmie Creek run-of-the-river project will produce 160,000 Megawatt Hours of clean, renewable energy per year.