The Heli-Ski Blog

Galena micro hydropower investment pays off

Posted by Topher Donahue on Apr 19, 2012 7:44:00 AM

As of this ski season, the CMH Galena Lodge’s micro-hydro plant has fully paid for its installation cost - as well as saved about half-a-million litres of diesel fuel and nearly a thousand tonnes of carbon emissions over its seven years of operation.  Last February, Luke Crawford, the maintenance expert at Galena, gave me a tour of the hydro facility, a tiny structure shown in the photo below, nestled among snow mushrooms near a stream a few hundred metres from the Galena Lodge.

hydro plant galenaBetween keeping the Lodge and its energy systems in operation, and bagging as many pillow lines as possible, Luke took the time to answer a few questions:

TD: On average, how much of the lodge's power supply does the hydro provide?

LC: From end of ski season to start of ski season (April 1st- December 1st) it provides essentially 100% of our electrical power.  
During the season, it provides 100% electrical power needs from December 1st until usually sometime in early Febuary. From that point to the end of the ski season, we are running the diesel generator 15-18 hrs. each day.  However, even when the generator is running, 100% of the hydro power is dumped into heating our boiler loops.
The short answer would be about 80% for the year.

TD: How much did it cost?

LC: It was anticipated it would take 5-7 years for the hydro plant to pay for itself from the greatly diminished diesel bill. The installation of the plant itself cost about 450,000 dollars and saves between 45,000 and 50,000 litres of diesel annually (which translates into reduced carbon emissions to the tune of about 130 tonnes a year).

galena lodge pool table lighting 

TD: How has it changed the energy use/awareness by staff and guests?

LC: For staff I would say we are all much more aware of conserving power and to a certain extent greater awareness of what the power hogs in the lodge are eg. Hobart dishwasher, bathroom floor heat, the older style flourescent lighting.

With the guests I can't say I have really noticed much, however I have only worked here since the plant was installed. Every tour there are usually a couple of guests who take quite an interest in the hydro setup at the lodge.

micro hydro power plantTD: When was it installed?

LC: 2005

TD: Any issues with it?

LC: The biggest one is that we have a two-month period each year when the hydro plant cannot produce enough power to meet the Lodge's peak demand times which are in the morning when everyone is getting up, and then around dinner time.

The reason is that the run off from the creek always drops to a certain point that is just not enough for the lodge during those time periods of the day. The plant was designed with the goal of being able to meet all of our electrical requirements for the entire year, so it is unfortunate that this did not materialize into reality for the lodge.

Occasionally, something happens up at the hydro plant's weir that cuts off the water supply for the plant, forcing it to shut down. These can last from mere minutes very rare instances a couple of days, in which case we rely on the generator until the issue is resolved.

The Galena Lodge micro-hydro plant is just one element of CMH’s quest to be the leading sustainable tourism company in North America.  Visit the stewardship pages of our website for more information.

Topics: Galena Lodge, Adventure Travel, Sustainability, CMH Experts, CMH