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EIS advances review of Québec’s 1,550-MW Romaine

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) launched public consultations on an environmental impact statement (EIS) of the proposed 1,550-MW Romaine hydroelectric complex, on the Romaine River, north of Havre-Saint-Pierre, Québec.

The EIS, which finds the project’s environmental effects can be successfully mitigated, was filed in January by Hydro-Québec with CEAA and Québec’s Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks.

The project would feature four powerhouses – 270-MW Romaine 1,640-MW Romaine 2,395-MW Romaine 3, and 245-MW Romaine 4. They are expected to generate a total of 8 terawatt-hours annually.

Construction of the C$6.5 billion (US$6.4 billion) power project will proceed once government permits are obtained, the utility said.

The cost, which includes mitigation measures, is lower than previous estimates. However, an estimate for transmission lines to connect the powerhouses to Hydro-Québec’s grid remains C$1.5 billion (US$1.5 billion), utility spokesman Sylvain Theberge said.

If construction begins in mid-2009, the project would be completed in 2020. Commissioning of the first turbine-generator units would begin in 2014.

Agencies clear effects of 435-MW Waneta Expansion

A comprehensive report finds the proposed 435-MW Waneta Expansion hydroelectric project in British Columbia is likely to have little adverse effect on the environment.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Transport Canada submitted the report to the federal Minister of the Environment and to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA).

“Taking into consideration the federal Comprehensive Study Report and the implementation of the proposed mitigation measures, the project is not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects,” the authorities said.

After reviewing the report and public comments, Canada’s environment minister will determine whether to advance the project for action or refer it for further environmental assessment by a review panel or a mediator.

Waneta Expansion – on the Pend d’Oreille River in the West Kootenay Region – cleared British Columbia’s environmental assessment process in November 2007. (See Canadian News, March 2008.)

The C$400 million (US$395 million) project near Trail, B.C., would reduce the amount of water spilled at 400-MW Waneta Dam, owned by Teck Cominco Metals Ltd. It is expected to reduce total dissolved gas downstream and improve Columbia River water quality.

Waneta Expansion Power Corp., a venture of Columbia Power Corp. and the Columbia Basin Trust, proposes building and operating the new power plant at the existing dam. The project would feature a new powerhouse with two turbine-generators to be in service by 2011 and a ten-kilometer, 230-kilovolt transmission line.

Hydro-Québec commissions 385-MW Peribonka

Hydro-Québec’s 385-MW Peribonka project on the Peribonka River northeast of Lac Saint-Jean is generating electricity. The new project is expected to generate about 2,200 gigawatt-hours annually.

The province-owned utility put the first of the project’s three turbine-generators on line in December 2007, three months ahead of a scheduled March 2008 on-line date for the unit. It then put the other units in service, declaring the project fully operable Dec. 30, 2007.

The C$1.2 billion (US$1.18 billion) project features an 80-meter-tall dam, a spillway, and an underground powerhouse that contains three Francis turbine-generators.

Work began in April 2004. Project service and product providers included Alstom Canada Energie, Bauer spezialtiefbau GmbH, Canmec Industrial Inc., LAR Machinerie Inc., and Roctest Ltd.

Québec Premier Jean Charest and utility officials attended a ceremony inaugurating the project.

Hydropower contract prompts Alcan to expand Canada smelter

Rio Tinto Alcan reached a new agreement with BC Hydro on sale of power to the utility from Rio Tinto Alcan’s 896-MW Kemano hydropower plant in Kitimat, British Columbia.

Rio Tinto Alcan said the agreement, which was approved by the British Columbia Utilities Commission, allows it to proceed with a US$2 billion expansion of its smelter in Kitimat.

The company said the agreement means the smelter’s electricity needs will have priority over any other power sales. It said that would allow Rio Tinto Alcan to adjust its power sales to BC Hydro depending on the final configuration and power requirements of the modernized smelter.

Expansion of the smelter would lift the plant’s annual output of primary aluminium by 125,000 tons, Rio said. The company said its global aluminium production would increase 3 percent as a result.

The power agreement is the last of three conditions imposed before work on revamping the smelter could proceed, following resolution of a labor agreement and environmental permitting. Alcan of Canada, which was acquired by Rio Tinto, hired U.S. engineering firm Bechtel in June 2007 to draw up a detailed feasibility study and confirm cost estimates and scheduling for the expansion of the smelter.

In 2004, the town of Kitimat filed suit to require Alcan to use power generated at Kemano to restore aluminium smelter production and local jobs. The suit alleged outside sales of power to BC Hydro hurt Kitimat’s economy. The B.C. Utilities Commission rejected an earlier contract to sell power to BC Hydro due to concerns over price and the public interest.

BC Hydro studies options for 106-MW Ruskin powerhouse

BC Hydro is evaluating rehabilitation alternatives to replace generating equipment and to meet seismic standards at its 105.6-MW Ruskin Dam powerhouse on British Columbia’s Stave River.

Preliminary engineering estimates target completion in 2015 for C$175 million (US$172.7 million).

BC Hydro awarded a C$500,000 (US$493,600) contract to MWH Canada Inc., a consulting engineering firm, to develop and assess options for rehabilitating or replacing all powerhouse components, including the water conveyance system, draft tubes, mechanical and electrical components, and the powerhouse. MWH Canada also is to provide a feasibility level design for the preferred option.

A condition assessment of the powerhouse by another contractor, RW Beck, previously concluded most powerhouse equipment had exceeded its useful life. As a result of that assessment, BC Hydro identified and initiated action on several immediate priorities to address safety and environmental considerations in the short term.

The generating station was commissioned in 1930, the same year the dam was completed. Additional generating units were installed in 1938 and 1950.

Devine Tarbell, MWH open new offices in Canada

Devine Tarbell & Associates Inc. (DTA) and MWH, two engineering consulting firms headquartered in the U.S., announce the opening of new offices in Canada.

Devine Tarbell & Associates Inc., consulting engineers, scientists, and regulatory specialists, opened its first Canada office in Toronto, Ontario.

“DTA’s expansion into Canada results from our desire to participate in the re-energized Canadian hydro market, building on our success and leadership in the U.S. hydro sector,” DTA Chief Executive Officer Rick Miller said.

Karen Graham, former supervisor of project management with Voith Siemens Hydro Power Generation Services in Mississauga, Ontario, manages the new Toronto office.

Since its inception in 2003, the employee-owned consulting firm of engineers, scientists, and regulatory specialists has grown from six offices and a staff of 130 to nine offices and a staff of more than 225.

DTA is headquartered in the U.S., in Portland, Maine. MWH opened its new office in Vancouver, British Columbia. It is the firm’s second office in Canada.

Operating under the name MWH Canada Inc., the Vancouver office initially will focus on engineering services for hydroelectric and mining industries.

In announcing the opening of the new office, MWH said it expects the expansion will provide design, management, and consulting services to the energy, natural resource, industry, and infrastructure markets in western Canada.

MWH named Nikolay Argirov general manager to lead the new office. Argirov has 27 years of experience in management and design of hydro projects, construction, and offshore and marine structure-related work.

MWH, which has served clients in Canada since 1921, also has an office in Toronto, Ontario. Headquartered in Colorado, MWH has more than 7,000 employees worldwide.

Briefly ...

A C$7 million (US$6.9 million) overhaul of a turbine-generator at the 36-MW Lois Lake hydroelectric project in British Columbia is resulting in production of about 9 gigawatt-hours more electricity annually from the same amount of water. The project owner, Powell River Energy, is jointly owned by Great Lakes Hydro Income Fund and Catalyst Paper Corp. ... Brookfield Power acquired the 1.7-MW East Twin Creek and 5.7-MW Hystad hydroelectric projects in northeast British Columbia from East Twin Creek Hydro Ltd. for an undisclosed price. The power plants are expected to generate a total of about 29 gigawatt-hours annually, which is being sold under long-term contract to utility BC Hydro.


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