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Hydro-Quebec, Innu reach Romaine hydro project deal

An Innu community has reached a C$125-million agreement-in-principle with Quebec to allow provincial utility Hydro-Quebec to run transmission lines through their ancestral territory.

The tentative deal is over Hydro-Quebec's 1,550-MW Romaine hydroelectric project on the Romaine River on the province's Lower North Shore.

The Innu of Uashat Mani-Utenam, on Quebec's north shore, signed an agreement in principle with the utility that will see them receive $80 million in cash over the next 50 years, local media reported.

The remaining $45-million will take the form of contracts to be allocated to the community of 4,000 during the construction of power lines to transmit electricity from the four dams to be built on the Romaine River near Sept-Iles, about 600 kilometers northeast of Quebec City.

In exchange, the Innu agreed to drop legal proceedings against the utility that could have blocked the construction of power lines for the project - considered one of the largest infrastructure works underway in the country.

The $6.5 billion Romaine project is set to produce 1,550 MW of power, beginning in 2020.

The deal only compensates the Innu of Uashat for the Romaine project. The band still has pending legal proceedings of nearly $2-billion against Hydro-Quebec and the Quebec government for other hydroelectric developments.

The parties hope to ink a final agreement by March 11.

The final deal will be subject to the approval of the Innu community by referendum in April.

Hydro-Quebec has already reached agreements with four other Innu communities affected by the Romaine project.

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