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Québec starts construction of 888-MW Eastmain 1A

Construction began Jan. 11 on the 888-MW Eastmain 1A and Rupert Diversion hydroelectric project in northern Québec.

Work began less than a month after Canada’s prime minister announced the government completed a review of a Federal Environmental Assessment Panel report and said the project could proceed. By starting construction immediately, work began before the ground froze, avoiding months of weather-related construction delays, officials said.

The project includes 768-MW Eastmain 1A powerhouse at Eastmain 1 reservoir on the Eastmain River. A 120-MW Sarcelle powerhouse at the outlet of Opinaca reservoir also is planned, along with the partial diversion of flow from the Rupert River watershed into the Eastmain River watershed.

Various stages of the project will be brought into service between late 2009 and early 2012, Hydro-Québec Chief Executive Officer Thierry Vandal said. Vandal was among officials on hand to launch construction of the project, which Québec Premier Jean Charest said has an estimated value of more than C$5 billion (US$4.3 billion).

“As a result of this project and goals set out in our energy strategy, we will use our hydroelectric potential as a lever for economic and regional development, to create wealth and jobs,” Charest said. “We will also be able to take advantage of business opportunities on foreign markets.”


This 153-year-old building in Fergus, Ontario, Canada, houses a 270-kW hydropower generating unit in its basement. The building, used as a mill in the mid-1800s, is now a condominium complex.
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Pierre Corbeil, minister of Natural Resources and Wildlife, spoke of the project’s economic importance to Québec and its regions. He noted the equivalent of 27,000 people would work on the project site over the next six years, with a peak workforce of more than 4,000. The project will generate economic spinoffs for the regions of about C$532 million (US$455 million), he added.

Alberta regulators to review Canada’s 100-MW Dunvegan

Alberta Province’s regulatory review of the 100-MW Dunvegan hydroelectric project is expected to begin early this year, Canadian Hydro Developers said.

Based on initial discussions with Alberta Environment, Canadian Hydro anticipates a minimum 12-month review period. If approvals are received within that time frame, the company said site preparation could begin in 2008, with commissioning planned for fall 2011.

Canadian Hydro subsidiary Glacier Power Ltd. submitted a final application in October 2006 to Alberta Environment, Alberta Energy and Utilities Board, and Natural Resources Conservation Board to build and operate the project.

The site for the proposed run-of-river project is 2 kilometers upstream of Dunvegan Bridge on the Peace River. Canadian Hydro estimates capital costs of more than C$300 million (US$256 million). The project would feature 40 turbines, each rated at 2.5 MW.

In 2003, Alberta Energy and Utilities Board denied the company’s application for an 80-MW Dunvegan project, citing uncertain effects on fish and a risk of flooding in the town of Peace River. Canadian Hydro subsequently announced it would reapply, consolidating information with new evidence on ice modeling, mitigation for the town of Peace River, and fish studies.

Fergus opens 270-kW project in 153-year-old Canada mill

A 270-kW hydroelectric project owned by Fergus Mill Power Co. Ltd. entered operation in October 2006 in Ontario. Mavel a.s. announced commissioning of Fergus Mill – its first installation in North America.

Fergus Mill Power, led by Murray and Karen Koebel, developed the Fergus Mill hydroelectric project in a former mill in Fergus, near Toronto. The generating unit is housed in a sub-basement of the 153-year-old mill building, part of a 31-unit condominium complex. Electricity is sold on the spot market through a local utility.

Mavel, an equipment manufacturer and engineering company based in the Czech Republic, provided the project’s double-regulated bulb turbine. The turbine employs a 1,050-millimeter-diameter runner, four runner blades, and 16 wicket gates to drive a horizontal asynchronous generator. Mavel also provided design for the hydraulic system and draft tube.

First nation signs agreement to advance East Toba-Montrose

The Klahoose First Nation signed an agreement with Plutonic Power Corp. to help advance construction of the 196-MW East Toba River and Montrose Creek project in British Columbia’s Toba River Valley.

Plutonic said it signed a term sheet with the first nation, setting out essential terms of an impact and benefits agreement to be finalized by the parties. Members of the Klahoose community ratified the terms and conditions.

Plutonic and the Klahoose First Nation are to establish a project liaison committee to facilitate development. Plutonic also is to recognize and respect Klahoose aboriginal title and rights, archaeological sites and artifacts, and traditional use in the area.

The developer also is to provide Klahoose members with opportunities for employment, training, and contracting. Klahoose members will receive cash payments from Plutonic during project construction and for the first 35 years after completion, as well as an annual royalty on revenue thereafter. The company did not specify dollar amounts.

In return, Plutonic will have access to the project site through traditional Klahoose territory. The Klahoose agreed to consent to, and to not impede, hinder, or dispute, the construction or operation of the project. The first nation also will consent to the issuance of an environmental assessment certificate and other licenses, permits, and authorizations for the project.

In 2006, Plutonic signed two energy purchase agreements to supply BC Hydro about 752 gigawatt-hours per year for 35 years from East Toba River and Montrose Creek and from the 15-MW Rainy River project. Plutonic has proposed 22 run-of-river projects in British Columbia with total capacity exceeding 870 MW.

OPG, Lac Seul nation sign hydro agreement

Ontario Power Generation (OPG) and the Lac Seul First Nation signed an agreement resolving past effects of hydro development on the Lac Seul territory and paving the way for additional hydropower.

The settlement addresses effects of the Root River diversion project and 18.5-MW Ear Falls and 65-MW Manitou Falls generating stations, built on the English River between 1930 and 1958. The plants are among ten in Ontario Power’s 661-MW Northwest Plant Group.

“This agreement is a model to facilitate the construction of new, clean, renewable hydropower through a partnership between OPG and the Lac Seul First Nation,” OPG Executive Vice President John Murphy said.

OPG is developing the Lac Seul project, adding a 12.5-MW generating unit to the Ear Falls hydro plant. Water levels on the lake and below the station are to be unchanged upon completion of the project.

“Our people support the work that is being done by OPG to add additional generation at the Lac Seul site,” Chief Clifford Bull said. “In the future, we want to build a commercial relationship with OPG in which our people can benefit from projects on our traditional lands.”

Canadian engineering group honors RSW for excellence

RSW received an engineering award of excellence for the company’s work on Hydro-Québec’s 526-MW Toulnustouc hydroelectric project.

The Canadian Association of Consulting Engineers presented the award. The award specifically recognizes RSW’s design work on the project’s concrete-faced rockfill dam.

RSW designed the Toulnustouc project, north of Baie-Comeau in Québec. Hydro-Québec commissioned the project in 2005.

BC Hydro awards contracts for monitoring 50-MW Whatshan

BC Hydro awarded contracts totaling more than C$150,000 (US$135,000) for monitoring of the 50-MW Whatshan project in British Columbia.

The utility said it awarded contracts for monitoring of:

– Fish habitat in the Lower Whatshan River to Naito Environmental of Vernon, B.C., about C$90,000 (US$81,000);

– Reservoir vegetation to AIM Ecological Consultants Ltd., Port Moody, B.C., C$47,000 (US$42,300); and

– Reservoir wildlife to Kingbird, Revelstoke, B.C., C$14,000 (US$12,600).

Monitoring ordered by the utility, under a water use plan prepared for the project, is expected to help implement recommended operational changes. Monitoring activities also will provide baseline information for future operating decisions.

The monitoring work will generate data for informal and formal reviews of the water use plan in five and ten years.

Settlement to cost B.C. more than $24 million

British Columbia and BC Hydro agreed to pay two First Nations C$28 million (US$24.2 million), plus annual payments of more than C$3.4 million (US$2.9 million), to settle lawsuits aimed at W.A.C. Bennett Dam and its 2,730-MW G.M. Shrum hydro plant.

British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell announced the agreements in principle with the Tsay Keh Dene Band and the Kwadacha Nation. The nations sued the province-owned utility in 1999 and 2001, claiming damages from construction and operation of W.A.C. Bennett Dam, Williston Reservoir, and G.M. Shrum, on the Peace River near Revelstoke.

The nations alleged project construction and inundation caused dislocation of community members; the loss of hunting, trapping, and fishing areas; and loss of traditional gathering sites and burial grounds. The lawsuits eventually were put on hold while settlement agreements were negotiated.

The Tsay Keh Dene and Kwadacha communities must ratify final agreements before the First Nations receive full benefits.

Once implemented, the agreements provide for payment of C$14 million (US$12.1 million) to each First Nation, and ongoing annual payments of C$1.9 million (US$1.6 million) to the Tsay Keh Dene and C$1.5 million (US$1.3 million) to the Kwadacha. British Columbia also committed to fund health and heritage studies, and to offer the nations contracting opportunities totaling about C$11 million (US$9.5 million).

The agreements are to resolve the litigation against the province and BC Hydro, providing certainty for the future operation of BC Hydro’s facilities and the future relationship between BC Hydro and the First Nations.


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