Problems with power on the East Shore of Kootenay Lake has prompted a study that is now available online.
The Rural Alternative Energy & Resiliency report is written by former Selkirk College student Eva Snyder and a product of research she conducted this past summer.
“This was a project to specifically address renewable energy on the East Shore,” explains Snyder. “It all applies to rural communities, but we used the East Shore as a template.”
Former Selkirk College student Eva Snyder (far left in red) takes a group through the Yasodhara Ashram during her Teck Serv summer research project.
Partnership with Teck Trail Operations
The study was a product of the Teck Serv program that provides Selkirk College students financial support to undertake a chosen community-based applied research project each summer.
“Power outages are quite common on the East Shore with the single one-way line,” said Snyder. “We were looking at ways to mitigate the effects of those outages with supplemental power.”
Snyder used the East Shore’s Yasodhara Ashram as a base for her research, evaluation and assessment. Using the residential and gathering buildings at the ashram to represent a model for a small community, Snyder conducted an energy assessment. Her assessment then allowed her to delve into both household and community level solutions to energy needs.
Power Struggles in Isolated Areas
Without the capacity for oil or natural gas on the East Shore, the study explored simple and accessible technology. Snyder investigated options such as micro hydro, photovoltaics (solar energy) and biomass. It’s those options that were discussed at a special evening at Gray Creek Hall in October.
“There were barriers for some technologies and opportunities for others,” said Snyder.
Snyder was mentored by Jayne Boys who is a teacher/trainer at Yasodhara Ashram. Boys said there has been a need for this study for some time and the ashram’s carbon neutral goals made it a perfect fit as the project base.
“We’re at the end of the line in a very forested area,” says Boys. “Trees come down and break our lines, so there has been a desire to look at which form of alternative energy would help us through these periods of power outages.”
Late last autumn the East Shore dealt with three lengthy power outages that caused hardships on both businesses and homeowners.
“We found energy options that we need not bother with any longer and we found options we can look at much more closely,” said Boys. “We are hoping this report and discussion will generate some decision for us to work together as a bigger community along the East Shore.”
A Model for Rural British Columbia
One of the other end goals of the report is to pass the information onto the BC Ministry of Energy and Mines, and to share it with other rural areas around the province coping with similar energy issues.
Snyder was enrolled in the Integrated Environmental Planning Program at Selkirk College in the 2012-13 school year. Last spring she also completed the six-week Advanced Certificate in Renewable Energy Technology Program on the Castlegar Campus.
Through an application made by Crawford Bay-based Community Connections, Snyder was chosen under the Teck Serv program to undertake the study. The Teck Serv program is funded by Teck Trail Operations and is coordinated through the Columbia Basin Rural Development Institute at Selkirk College.
Now working towards a degree in Geography at Langara College in Vancouver, Snyder said spending eight weeks applying her knowledge for the report is an important step in her education.
“I’ve had a strong connection to nature and the environment all of my life,” Snyder says of her chosen educational path which started at Selkirk College. “It just seemed like a relevant, purposeful area to study and something I could really get into.”