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Manitoba's 200-MW Wuskwatim officially opened

TASKINGUP FALLS, Manitoba, Canada 7/10/12 (PennWell) -- Although it has been in operation since June, Manitoba's 200-MW Wuskwatim hydroelectric plant was officially opened this past week with a ceremony at the site.

The US$1.34 billion project -- developed through a partnership between the Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation (NCN) and Manitoba Hydro called the Wuskwatim Power Ltd. Partnership (WPLP) -- is the province's first new hydroelectric facility in two decades.

Power from the Wuskwatim plant will be fed into Manitoba Hydro's grid and be used exclusively within the province.

"Wuskwatim marks a new chapter in northern hydroelectric development for Manitoba," says Premier Greg Selinger. "For the first time, Manitoba Hydro has fully partnered with a local First Nation impacted by hydro development, ensuring that community members had a say in the planning, design and construction of this facility."

The plant will be operated by Manitoba Hydro, but NCN has an option to own up to one-third of the Wuskwatim project through its wholly-owned corporation, Taskinigahp Power Corporation, as per a development agreement signed by the parties in 2006.

NCN has already confirmed that it will take a "significant ownership position" in the project, but it has until July 2013 to exercise its option of owning the full 33%.

"This is an exciting time for our community," says NCN Chief Jerry Primrose. "For the first time, our people will benefit in a more meaningful way from hydro development, rather than just through compensation after the fact."

The first of Wuskwatim's three generating units was installed in June. The rest are expected to be in operation by the end of the year.

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