By Cole Parkinson
With the many large snowfalls over this past winter, the Municipal District of Taber has been exploring options of providing back-up power to the community halls located in the hamlets around the M.D.
The topic was first brought up during an M.D. regular meeting in January but was brought back during the March 13 regular meeting.
During the months since it was last brought up, M.D. staff has been working on finding a solution to ensure back up power would be available to the community halls in the hamlets of Grassy Lake, Hays and Enchant.
“Back in January, council asked staff to investigate the possibility or where we stand for supplying back up power to each of the hamlets, Hays, Grassy Lake and Enchant. What we looked at is we do have a journeyman electrician that does work for the M.D. of Taber as an equipment operator. We tasked him with going out and testing the load requirements as well as the equipment that we have on hand and if any additional work would be required to have these community halls be able to run on backup power in the case of emergency. I’m pleased to report today that each of our community halls in Grassy Lake, Hays and Enchant are currently plumbed and able to run off of back up generator power. The items that we do use are a PTO (power take-off) tractor, a PTO generator and it goes into the manual transfer stations for each of those community halls,” said Craig Pittman, public works superintendent.
While there are several options to provide back up power, M.D. staff says that if a stand-alone generator is preferred, they estimate each community hall would require 15-20kw diesel generators to be sufficient.
They also did a series of tests at each hall to determine the suitability of current electrical equipment and existing generator equipment.
At the Grassy Lake Community Hall, they have a tractor and generator located at the public works shop with the tractor used for snow removal and the generator currently powers the Grassy Lake Distribution Plant in emergency power outages.
At the Hays Civic Center, a generator is located at the Hays Fire Department and it powers the Hays Distribution Plant in case of emergency power outages.
No tractor is currently staged in Hays at all times but in the case of emergency, Jason Bullock, director of agricultural services for the M.D., would be tasked with lining one up.
Enchant meanwhile has a generator located at their public works shop at all times and the tractor is generally located there as well.
They also determined all three would be able to deliver 100 amps max in the event of an emergency which would be enough to power lights, furnaces, and refrigerators, among a few other utilities.
In the case of a snow storm, the public works staff was confident they could get equipment to the hamlets if there was none on location.
“Most likely, given a few hours, we can get equipment there. With that being said, if it’s unbelievable horrible weather and we can’t move that great, I’m pretty sure that making a few calls around the neighbourhood of that community hall, a farmer would bring a tractor in,” said Bullock. “We have other individuals around those communities lined up already to provide fuel for some of our generators at our water plants. They are more than willing to help out.”