Case Study

An innovative “fish-first” design

Close collaboration between Brookfield Renewable and the ’Namgis First Nations helped protect and enhance the habitat of eight fish species.

The Kokish hydroelectric facility is located on northeastern Vancouver Island, B.C. This run-of-river facility is owned and operated by Kwagis Power and is a collaborative partnership between Brookfield Renewable and the ’Namgis First Nations. Commissioned in 2014, Kokish has an installed capacity of 45 MW, generating enough clean renewable energy to power 13,000 homes annually.

A key feature of the project has been the unique equity partnership that was created to develop, build and operate the facility. Respecting the environment was a priority for both during construction, with great care taken not only to protect but also to enhance the fish habitat and fisheries resources in the Kokish River watershed. In fact, project planning began in 2004 and was followed by years of studying the river system, gathering data and preparing environmental plans.

The Kokish River is home to Coho, Chinook, Chum, Pink and Sockeye salmon, as well as to Cutthroat, Steelhead and Rainbow trout. To ensure that fish could continue to migrate, and to minimize the impact on the environment, the design of the facility included a fish ladder, allowing fish to swim upstream, and an elaborate screen to prevent fish from entering the intake box.

The Kokish hydroelectric project is not only a model of how sustainability, energy and environmental concern can come together, but also a great example of how the public, First Nations communities and the private sector can collaborate and work on a renewable power project that improves the Canadian energy infrastructure.