A deluge of energy prompted BC Hydro to spill water at the Peace Canyon Dam near Hudson’s Hope this week.
“In this case, the spill is necessary to manage an excess supply of energy in the BC Hydro system right now,” said BC Hydro spokesperson Bob Gammer.
The spill began at 4 p.m. on Wednesday and wrapped up 16 hours later, at 8 a.m. on Thursday.
The Peace Canyon Dam is one of two located on the Peace River. BC Hydro has proposed a third, Site C, which is currently in the project definition consultation stage. Recent public consultations about this project have been met with some opposition.
Gammer said this action was necessary because of current consumption needs.
“This is a spill in the moment,” he said. “We are in a low energy demand period.
“We’re in between the winter heating load season and that’s disappeared; we’re not into the high heat summer season where people might use air conditioning and so we are that time of year where energy demand is at its lowest for the year, so this is a decision that’s made right now.”
He noted that though there is an excess of energy right now, the Site C project is to assess the needs of the future.
“Site C is looking at long-term energy growth and of course Site C, if it’s built, wouldn’t be operating until 2021, or something like that,” said Gammer. “So that’s long-term growth, and looking at growth way beyond that.”
Gammer said that the spill is “only about 20 per cent of what you’d see coming out of there at full output.”
The amount of water being spilled over the spillway is about 14,000 cubic feet per second, he said. “When we’re running Peace Canyon at full output… we would be using about 70,000 cubic feet of water per second,” said Gammer.
He noted that when this dam is operating at full capacity, it makes about 700 megawatts of energy.
“We’re not generating at full output at the dam,” he said. “What’s being generated and released through the power house and what’s being spilled, added together is still going to be less than what we would generate if we were going at maximum (output) at that dam.
“It’s within our licensed limit,” Gammer continued.
He noted that the spill wouldn’t cause anything “unusual about the river level or the flows on the Peace River.”