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Lights out on Seymour Arm electrification program

Seymour Arm will continue to be unplugged for the foreseeable future as BC Hydro has pulled the plug on all rural electrification projects that were in the planning stage.

“We thought we were sufficiently far enough along in the planning process that they would elect to proceed with the program now,” said CSRD chief administrative officer Charles Hamilton. “It was a bit disheartening for the community, staff and ourselves; we went so far as to hold a referendum and got elector  consent to borrow approximately 3.5 million, which was the community’s portion of the initiative.”

In a Sept. 28 referendum, 109 residents voted in favour of paying up to $600 per year for electrification, while only 49 people were opposed.

It had taken three years of work by a community committee, Columbia Shuswap Regional District and BC Hydro staff to get to that stage.

Hamilton says he remains hopeful the often-contentious project will be resurrected sometime in the near future.

While it won’t be soon, David Lebeter, VP Field Operations for BC Hydro, says the project is not “off the map.”

He says the decision to halt all projects currently in the  planning stage of the Rural Community Electrification Program was part of a budget-reduction approach to manage hydro rate increases with the least pain to the fewest people.

He says the fairest thing seemed to be to just put the rural program on hold for the time being.

Two projects in the implementation stage will continue and hydro will look at plans for fiscal 2016 at the end of this year, said Lebeter, noting the decision to pull the plug on the rural program was difficult. “We would first approach people we’ve put on hold.”

 

 

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