The Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) is a gift that keeps on giving, and it’s going to be supercharging its chequebook in the near future thanks to power project revenues, which are expected to double over the next three years.
“There are two main drivers for that,” said CBT vice president and chief operating officer Johnny Strilaeff. “The first is a project currently under construction, which will expand to a commercial operation by the spring of 2015.”
The other big reason for the substantial revenue increase will be due to a renewal of terms with the purchaser.
“We have an agreement for selling power which expires at end of 2015,” he said. “The new agreement, for the beginning of 2016, has prices set at about double the current prices.”
The Trust dished out $22 million to community groups over the 2013-2014 fiscal year – $2.7 million more than the year before.
The CBT earns money through several other investments aside from hydro electricity, but power plants are the source of the vast majority of revenues. Of its $29,353,000 in revenue this year, $22,825,000 was generated from power projects.
“Seventy-eight per cent of the Trust’s revenues are derived from power investments,” according to a press release in the CBT’s annual report. “Increasing to 83 per cent in 2015-2016.”
Revenue can fluctuate slightly each year depending on the duration and intensity of power outages. The CBT budgets for a certain number of outages each year, and revenue will fluctuate depending upon those events. Mr. Strilaeff said that the CBT tries to estimate with a slightly conservative approach.
“When there’s an extended outage, we have nothing to sell to BC Hydro.”
As long as they can produce the power – no matter how much is made – BC Hydro has agreed to purchase everything produced by the CBT.
Deserving groups around the Columbia Basin are also supported by those in the business of assisted living. Through a partnership with Golden Life Management, the CBT has investments in many housing projects for seniors, including the Columbia Garden Village in Invermere.
The CBT will be investing $1,234,000 in broadband initiatives, which Mr. Strilaeff said will lead to faster internet in remote areas of the basin.
“There are areas still with dial up in the Columbia Basin,” he said. “We have to put infrastructure in place. We’ll start in larger centres but we hope to expand to rural areas that struggle to have connectivity.”