The Kitasoo Xai’xais Hydro Modernization Project involved the upgrade of an existing hydropower facility that provides power to Kitasoo-Xai’xais First Nation community of Klemtu on Swindle Island in the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest. The community is home to over 300 people and is reliant upon a hydropower facility at Baron Lake that has been in operation since 1980.
With frequent blackouts and a lack of generation capacity hampering community and economic development, the modernization project was initiated to comprehensively upgrade the hydro system. This resulted in an increased its generation capacity from 600 to 1,700 kW and an increase of energy storage capacity from 12 to 72 days of power through increasing active storage to 4.6m from 2.3m via an innovative siphon intake design. Civil works included intake construction, replacement of the existing 14” steel penstock with 20” High Density Poly Ethylene (HDPE) penstock that allowed for reuse of existing penstock bracketing, bifurcation of the penstock to re-establish flow to the older powerhouse, and installation of a remote control system.
Enhanced reservoir capacity will ensure adequate supply of clean power during prolonged droughts, and the re-integration of the old turbine and powerhouse will allow for delivery of hydro power even during times of scheduled or unscheduled maintenance. These retrofits will limit the need for diesel backup to true emergency use only.
The project provided a variety of engineering and construction challenges due to the steep granite terrain and extreme precipitation. As Construction Manager, BPG oversaw the complex construction process that resulted in the successful commissioning of the upgraded facility on time and on budget.
This project has received support from Coast Funds, the New Relationship Trust, the Province of BC, Natural Resources Canada, Infrastructure Canada and Indigenous Services Canada.