70-MW McLymont Creek hydropower project gets environmental go-ahead

VICTORIA, British Columbia, Canada 6/12/12 (PennWell) -- British Columbia has granted an environmental assessment certificate for AltaGas Renewable Energy Inc.'s proposed 70-MW McLymont Creek hydroelectric project.

The US$211 million run-of-river McLymont complex would include almost 17 kilometers of new roads and a 10-kilometer power transmission line.

As HydroWorld.com reported in November 2011, Alta Gas has signed a power purchase agreement with Canadian utility BC Hydro, which will take effect on the project's anticipated commercial operational date, which is November 2015.

Officials from British Columbia's Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) say the decision to grant the EA came after it was decided the project would have no significant adverse effects, although it comes with a number of legally binding stipulations AltaGas must adhere to.

Key requirements established by the EAO include:

• Proponent must implement and maintain a minimum in-stream flow requirement of 0.5 cubic meters per second in the McLymont Creek diversion reach.

• Proponent must develop, test and confirm operational criteria and procedures for flow ramping (controlling water flow levels during project startup and shutdown). This will include the creation of an overall ramping protocol for the combined operations of the McLymont Creek, Volcano Creek, and Forrest Kerr hydroelectric projects, which are all owned by AltaGas Renewable Energy.

• Proponent must implement comprehensive Environmental Management Plans that clearly outline proponent and contractor roles and responsibilities, monitoring requirements, reporting requirements and training components.

• Proponent must develop and implement a Mountain Goat Monitoring and Mitigation Plan, which specifically addresses construction work restrictions during the sensitive period for mountain goats (Nov. 1 to June 14) to ensure that goats will not be negatively affected by construction activities.

• As part of the Environmental Management Plans, proponent must describe and implement methods to monitor and control the establishment of invasive plant species.

• Proponent will submit reports to EAO, at specified intervals (annually, prior to construction, operation, decommissioning, and once decommissioning is complete), indicating the status of compliance with the conditions of the EA certificate.

Even with the EA in-hand, AltaGas must still obtain the necessary provincial and federal licenses, leases and other approvals before the project can proceed.

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