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ATCO Power, TransCanada eye large Slave River development

ATCO Power and TransCanada Corp. are exploring development of a large hydroelectric project on the Slave River. The project could be built in Alberta or on the Northwest Territories’ side of the river.

The companies are partners in Slave River Hydro Development, which is in the early stages of a preliminary assessment to see if it would be reasonable to develop the project.

Slave River Hydro notes the possibility of building a hydroelectric station near Fort Smith in Alberta has been assessed several times. Those studies determined that development technically is feasible.

The latest study was conducted in the 1980s. Since that time Canada’s need for clean, renewable, and reliable sources of energy has grown, as has the understanding that such a development needs to actively involve nearby communities, the companies said. Slave River Hydro representatives have met with local community members, leaders, and government officials since fall 2006.

“We have more work to do before we’re in a position to say where a hydro plant could be located,” the developer explained in a brochure prepared for local communities. “We need to listen to and take into consideration community concerns and interests as well as consider environmental, traditional use, technical and economic aspects before we can propose any solutions.”

At one time, the project was envisioned as a single 1,800-MW hydro plant. However, the companies are looking at a number of configurations and have not mentioned a generating capacity. Slave River Hydro states it is not interested in building a dam with a large reservoir. It is looking at several types of run-of-river concepts. While most schemes would require a structure on the river between Fort Smith and Fort Fitzgerald, the companies said, structures would divert water through generating equipment without long-term storage capability.

Should development of the project proceed, Slave River Hydro said it could take 12 years or more to complete community consultation, detailed feasibility studies, detailed engineering design, regulatory approvals, and construction.

B.C. plans assessment of 125-MW Glacier/Howser

British Columbia’s Environmental Assessment Office is working on terms of reference that will guide its assessment of the 125-MW Glacier Creek and Howser Creek hydroelectric project.

The proposed project is subject to review under the province’s Environmental Assessment Act. The assessment process considers the potential effects of proposed projects and ways to minimize or avoid adverse effects.

Comments on draft terms will help identify information Purcell Green Power Inc., the project sponsor, must include in its application for an environmental assessment certificate.

Purcell, formerly 3986314 Canada Inc., proposes to build, own, and operate the project’s two hydro plants on the east side of Duncan Reservoir in Central Kootenay Regional District, north of Meadow Creek. Purcell is affiliated with AXOR Group Inc., headquartered in Montreal.

Glacier Creek would have a rated capacity of 40.5 to 60 MW. It would operate under a gross head of 438 meters, and generate about 138 to 178 gigawatt-hours (GWh) annually. Purcell expects the capital cost of a 40.5-MW Glacier Creek facility to be C$89 million (US$85 million). Howser Creek would be 50 to 65 MW. It would operate under a gross head of 345 meters, and generate about 203 to 230 GWh annually. Purcell says the cost of a 50-MW facility would be C$120 million (US$114 million).

In addition to the run-of-river installations, the project would include a 230-kilovolt, 90-kilometer transmission line that would cross the Purcell Mountains and connect to a substation in East Kootenay Regional District, west of Invermere.

BC Hydro has agreed to buy power from the project, which responded to the utility’s 2006 open call for power.

The Environmental Assessment Office said it would consider public comments, finalize the terms of reference, and issue terms the sponsor must include in its application for an environmental assessment certificate. If the project eventually is approved and a certificate issued, Purcell still is required to obtain permits and authorizations from permitting authorities for the project to proceed.

Utility plans $2 million upgrade for 127-MW Cat Arm

Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro (NLH) will invest nearly C$2 million (US$1.86 million) to replace aging equipment and upgrade its 127-MW Cat Arm hydroelectric station.

NLH outlined its plans in a 2008 capital program filed with Newfoundland’s Board of Commissioners of Public Utilities.

The utility proposes to: upgrade original spherical valve maintenance seals through retrofit of new seals and new operating mechanisms; replace original governor controls for one turbine-generator unit; and replace the station’s fire alarm system, auxiliary service water pump, and secondary air line for switchgear.


The 120-MW Brilliant Expansion project in British Columbia is generating electricity. It was commissioned in September.
Click here to enlarge image

Cat Arm, located on the Great Northern Peninsula of the island of Newfoundland, operates under a head of 380.5 meters. Each of the project’s two Pelton turbine-generators generates electricity from an average rated flow of 20 cubic meters per second. The project annually generates 733 gigawatt-hours, on average. The units initially were synchronized in February 1985.

In 2006, Cat Arm provided 12 percent of the province’s total energy supply. NLH said the planned upgrades are essential to ensure continued reliability of the electrical system.

Tenders will be issued in early 2008 for equipment and service providers. Work is tentatively scheduled to begin in the spring, NLH corporate communications manager Dawn Dalley said.

On-Line Report: 120-MW Brilliant Expansion

The newly completed 120-MW Brilliant Expansion hydroelectric project is on line and generating power in British Columbia, near Castlegar.

Columbia Power Corp. and Columbia Basin Trust own the project, which is immediately downstream of the existing 145-MW Brilliant Dam, which the joint venture partners purchased in 1996. Construction of the new powerhouse began in 2003.

Brilliant Expansion Consortium, formed by SNC-Lavalin, Chant Construction, and Skanska Civil Engineering AB, handled design-build work for the C$207 million (US$201 million) project. Alstom Canada provided turbine, generator, and control equipment. BC Hydro buys the project’s power.

“The construction of this second powerhouse at Brilliant maximizes power production by utilizing water that would otherwise be spilled over the dam,” Columbia Power Corp. President Barry Chuddy said. “This will also reduce harmful dissolved gases in the water below the dam, which in turn helps reduce fish mortality and permits classification of the power generated as clean, green energy.”

Completion of Brilliant Expansion concludes the second of three major hydroelectric projects undertaken by the partners. The first project, 185-MW Arrow Lakes, was completed in 2002. Planning is under way for the third project, 435-MW Waneta Expansion, near Trail.

Columbia Basin Trust was formed by the Columbia Basin Trust Act to pass along economic benefits of Columbia Basin dams to areas adversely affected by those dams. Columbia Power Corp., a corporation owned and controlled by British Columbia, is the trust’s joint venture partner in basin power projects.

Plutonic files applications for projects totaling 108 MW

Plutonic Power Corp. filed applications with British Columbia to secure water licenses and crown land rights to develop run-of-river hydroelectric projects totaling 108 MW on Gargoyle Creek, Coola Creek, and Heakamie River.

Plutonic is proposing the 28-MW Gargoyle Creek, 32-MW Coola Creek, and 48-MW Heakamie River projects for sites near the headwaters of Bute Inlet, about 130 kilometers north of Powell River. The projects are expected to generate a total of about 320 gigawatt-hours (GWh) annually, the company said.

Plutonic filed the applications with the Water Stewardship Division in the Ministry of Environment and with the Integrated Land Management Bureau in the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands. In addition to determining whether to grant a water license and land rights, the government must determine whether the projects are subject to the province’s environmental assessment process.

Gargoyle Creek, Coola Creek, and Heakamie River bring the total number of proposed development projects in Plutonic’s portfolio to 34, including the 123-MW East Toba River and 73-MW Montrose Creek project, now under construction. The 34 projects have a total design capacity of about 1,700 MW, and are expected to generate 5,500 GWh annually, Plutonic said.

SNC-Lavalin purchases engineering firm

Engineering and construction company SNC-Lavalin acquired engineering firm Groupe Qualitas Inc. and its subsidiaries.

SNC-Lavalin did not disclose financial terms of the transaction, but said the acquisition of Qualitas would enable it to strengthen its presence throughout the province of Québec.

Qualitas specializes in materials, pavement management, geotechnology, and the environment. It employs about 300 people who provide services throughout Québec, where it has been active for nearly 50 years. The company has worked in hydroelectric, transportation, infrastructure, institutional, industrial, and municipal sectors.

SNC-Lavalin companies have offices across Canada and in 34 other countries; the companies are working in about 100 countries.

Klohn Crippen Berger acquires Mack, Slack & Associates

Engineering and environmental consulting firm Klohn Crippen Berger Ltd. has purchased Mack, Slack & Associates Inc., a civil engineering firm based in Calgary, Alberta.

Klohn Crippen Berger President Bryan Watts said the two firms have worked together on many projects over the past ten years for Alberta Infrastructure and Transportation, as well as for Alberta Environment. Through the acquisition of this firm, Watts added, Klohn Crippen Berger expects to expand its growth in the water resources and infrastructure markets in the province of Alberta.

Klohn Crippen Berger offers engineering and environmental services to various industries, including the hydropower industry. Mack, Slack & Associates specializes in hydraulic structures, irrigation designs, hydrology, river engineering, and climate and hydrometric monitoring.


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