Nelson Hydro Electric Utility

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Nelson Hydro is a City of Nelson owned and operated utility and is the local supply authority for electrical service in the City of Nelson and the surrounding area. The Nelson Hydro service area covers from the Nelson Hydro Power Plant on Kootenay River to the west, Blewett, Taghum, Sproule and Grohman Creek, the City of Nelson, Highway 6 south towards Salmo to Perrier Road and beyond, north and east along Kootenay Lake to Harrop - Procter, Balfour, Queens Bay and terminating at Coffee Creek north of Queens Bay along Kootenay Lake.

View the Electrical Service Area Map 2009 (PDF)

Click on the image below to view PDF.
Nelson_Hydro_Final_Paper_February 2021 Opens in new window

Nelson Hydro General Rate Increase for 2021

For All Nelson Hydro Customers:

To meet the rising cost of providing power, Nelson Hydro must adjust its rates for both city and rural customers. This rate increase is necessary to cover the 4.36% rate increase in our power purchase costs from FortisBC1 and includes other direct inflationary costs such as supplies and labour. These factors alone result in Nelson Hydro customers requiring a 3.32% general rate increase effective April 1, 2021.

(Did you know that 50% of our power supply is purchased from FortisBC?)

In addition, Nelson Hydro has filed an application with the BC Utilities Commission (BCUC) for approval of an increase to the rural residential rates which included a detailed Cost of Service Analysis (COSA) application. 

Both applications to the BC Utilities Commission can be found at

For Rural Residential Customers (Outside City of Nelson), click here.



Nelson Hydro connects to the FortisBC system at Coffee Creek, the Nelson Hydro Power Plant at Bonnington and at the Granite Substation in the Rosemont area in the City of Nelson. Nelson Hydro is very unique in that it is one of the few Municipally owned and operated utilities to have its own generation, transmission and distribution systems.

Nelson HydroCrews from Penticton, Summerland and Nelson work to restore power after a significant wind storm in the Nelson area on January 13, 2021.


Includes Power Purchase and Generation – activities associated with the procurement and production of the electricity commodity.

Power Purchase

Approximately 45% of our annual energy requirements are obtained via power purchase. The supplier has historically been West Kootenay Power, now FortisBC under the current traditional regulatory environment. Power purchase represents approximately 30% of our annual operating costs.


Nelson Hydro owns and operates a 16 MW hydroelectric generation facility located at Bonnington Falls on the Kootenay River 16 km southwest of Nelson. The current water license allows a year-round output of 9.1 MW, which represents about 55% of our annual energy requirements. Operating costs for generation includes maintenance of the four generating units and of the buildings and property, water license fees and insurance. The powerplant serves an important function in that it tempers the rate impacts that FortisBC increases would otherwise have on our customers.

Nelson Dam

Transmission & Substations

Nelson Hydro owns and operates about 20 km of 63 kV transmission line that links the Powerplant and our supply points from FortisBC to our substation facilities in the City. Nelson Hydro also manages seven substation facilities – five within the City, one on the North Shore and one at the Powerplant. The facilities serve to convert transmission supply at 63 kV to distribution supply, primarily at 25 kV. Expenditures in these areas include crossarm and insulator replacement and outage response for the transmission lines and building, structure, switchgear and transformer maintenance in the substations.

Electrical lines


The most extensive portion of the Nelson Hydro system involves delivery of the electricity commodity to individual customers. This includes the medium (between 750 and 63,000 volts) and low (less than 750 volts) voltage facilities of Nelson Hydro, including transformation. Expenditures in this area include crossarm, insulator and conductor replacement, primary and secondary connector renewal, transformer maintenance, vegetation management and outage response.

Bucket truck