Kokish Hydroelectric Facility Protects Environment, Powers Local Economy

In June 2015, Brookfield Renewable Energy Group was awarded the 2015 Sustainable ElectricityTM Social Responsibility Award for its Kokish Hydroelectric Facility Partnership with the ‘Namgis First Nations. This partnership is also featured in the 2015 Sustainable ElectricityTM Annual Report.

The Kokish hydroelectric facility was set in motion nearly 20 years ago when the entity that was then known as Brookfield Renewable Energy Partners (Brookfield Renewable) purchased the water rights on the Kokish River. At the same time, Brookfield Renewable established Kwagis Power LP with the ‘Namgis First Nation (‘Namgis), which now owns and operates Kokish.

This run-of-river facility is located on northeastern Vancouver Island, approximately 15 km east of Port McNeill, British Columbia (BC) on traditional ‘Namgis territory. Commissioned in 2014, Kokish has an installed capacity of 45 megawatts and can generate enough clean renewable energy to power 13,000 homes annually.


 Image courtesy of Brookfield Renewable Energy Group.

Protecting the Environment

The Kokish River contains valuable fish resources and a variety of fish species requiring a high level of protection. The partners’ shared values of environmental respect and preservation meant that many steps were taken to protect and enhance the fish habitat and fishery resources in the watershed.

The facility includes a fish ladder to facilitate migration and minimize the environmental impact, and an elaborate coanda screen intake arrangement to prevent fish from entering the intake box. Additionally, fish screens were installed at the tailrace to the powerhouse to prevent fish from entering this area.


Image courtesy of Brookfield Renewable Energy Group.

Kokish Run-of-River Operations

Kokish run-of-river facility operates only when river flows are higher than the regulated instream flow requirements. Water diverted into the 9.2km long penstock flows through four Pelton turbines in the powerhouse and is returned to the river through a short tailrace. The Kokish River project stops diverting water from the river and generating electricity when the river flows approaches the identified minimum level.

The amount of water to be maintained in the natural river channel varies throughout the year, and is regulated by the Conditional Water License issued by the Provincial Ministry of Environment and the Federal Fisheries Act Authorization in order to protect fish habitats.


Image courtesy of Brookfield Renewable Energy Group.

Powering the Economy

In March 2010, the project was awarded a 40-year Electricity Purchase Agreement, as part of BC Hydro’s 2008 Clean Power Call, which sought new, renewable and cost-effective energy projects for the province.

In May 2012, construction activities commenced and over 200 people worked on the intake, penstock installation, power house, and transmission line. Construction was completed in early 2014 and the facility entered commercial operation in April 2014.

A key feature of the Kokish project is the cooperative equity partnership that was created between the ‘Namgis and Brookfield Renewable to develop, build and operate the facility. The project embodies the core values of both parties: sustainable development and utmost respect for the environment, aquatic resources and land conservation.

The successful partnership between Brookfield Renewable and the ‘Namgis has helped diversify the local economy and strengthened the ‘Namgis First Nations, by creating jobs and increasing spending on local goods and services. It is an example of how First Nations and the private sector can collaborate on a project that improves Canadian energy infrastructure.

Celebrating Success

The value of this partnership was recognized by the Canadian Electricity Association (CEA) when Brookfield Renewable received the 2015 Sustainable Electricity Social Responsibility Award. The annual awards honor companies that demonstrate a commitment to sustainable development.

“The ‘Namgis First Nations is a partner who shares our respect for the environment and commitment social responsibility,” said Brookfield Renewable CEO, North America Felipe Pinel. “The development and operation of the Kokish hydroelectric facility has provided a significant boost to the local economy, and we feel this partnership can serve as a model for how the private sector can work with First Nations for the benefit of all.”


Brookfield Renewable CEO, North America Felipe Pinel receiving the 2015 Sustainable Electricity Social Responsibility Award.

Vanessa Pilotte is Director of Communications, North America for Brookfield Renewable Energy Group.


Read more inspiring sustainability stories from electric utilities across Canada in the 2015 Sustainable ElectricityTM Annual Report.