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Canada forms panel to review 2,824-MW Lower Churchill

A five-member panel named by federal and provincial officials will review the 2,824-MW Lower Churchill hydroelectric project, proposed for Labrador.

Canada Environment Minister Jim Prentice, Newfoundland and Labrador Minister of Environment and Conservation Charlene Johnson, and Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dave Denine announced formation of the joint review panel.

Lesley Griffiths, co-principal of Griffiths Muecke consulting firm, and Herbert Clarke, former member of the Canada-Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Board, are co-chairs of the panel. The other members are: Keith Chaulk, biologist and director at the Labrador Institute of Memorial University; Meinhard Doelle, associate professor at Dalhousie Law School; and James Igloliorte, former law magistrate and provincial court judge in Labrador.

The panel is to: examine environmental effects of the proposed project; consider technically and economically feasible measures to mitigate any adverse environmental effects; and consider comments from the public.

Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro proposes the C$9 billion (US$7.1 billion) project, which would feature two developments on the Lower Churchill River – 2,000-MW Gull Island and 824-MW Muskrat Falls. Canadian federal and provincial regulators previously issued final guidelines for preparation of an environmental impact statement.

Environmental panel endorses 100-MW Dunvegan

A Canadian environmental panel concludes the 100-MW Dunvegan hydroelectric project on Alberta’s Peace River is in the public interest and unlikely to significantly affect the environment.

The joint panel of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA), Alberta Natural Resources Conservation Board, and Alberta Utilities Commission endorsed the project.

Glacier Power Ltd., a subsidiary of Canadian Hydro Developers, is the project’s proponent.

Glacier Power proposes to build a powerhouse with 40 2.5-MW turbine-generators, near Dunvegan Bridge in Alberta’s Fairview District, and a 144-kilovolt transmission line that would connect to an existing transmission line. The project is expected to generate 600 gigawatt-hours annually, plus renewable energy certificates.

The panel’s report concludes the project would add a stable and reliable source of electric power to the province and would be a net benefit to the region. The report, which includes 21 recommendations to minimize and manage potential effects, is available from the CEAA Internet site,

Canadian Hydro Manager Kelly Matheson said the approval is the culmination of nearly a decade of collaborative work by employees, consultants, and the local community, along with oversight by provincial and federal regulators. Dunvegan is to feature passageways for upstream and downstream migrating fish.

The government of Canada must respond to the report for Transport Canada and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to consider their approvals and authorizations. Over the next year, Canadian Hydro plans to obtain all permits required to proceed to construction, complete a detailed design of the project, finalize construction costs and the project schedule, and market the power and certificates on a long-term basis.

Cost estimates range from C$500 million (US$395.2 million) to C$600 million (US$474.2 million). Construction is expected to take four years.

Agency prepares for review of 1,027-MW Bute Inlet

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) prepared draft terms of reference for establishing a federal panel, if needed, to review a group of 17 British Columbia hydropower sites. The sites, totaling 1,027 MW, are collectively called the Bute Inlet project.

Plutonic Power Corp., the project developer, offered the project to BC Hydro’s Clean Power Call in November 2008.

Under Canada’s environmental review process, if the environment minister determines a project is likely to cause significant adverse effects, the project is referred to a federal review panel for further environmental assessment.

If such a referral were to occur, terms of reference would establish a mandate and authority of the federal review panel, its composition, and the process and procedures for conducting the environmental review.

If a review panel is appointed, Canada’s environment minister would finalize the federal terms of reference and release them to the public.

CEAA also will consider comments on draft federal-province environmental impact statement (EIS) guidelines for the project, in cooperation with B.C. Joint federal-province EIS guidelines specify the studies to be conducted and information to be provided by the developer to meet federal EIS requirements.

BC developer wins approval to advance 33 hydro sites

British Columbia’s Integrated Land Management Bureau authorizes Hawkeye Energy Corp. to continue the permitting process for development of 33 hydro sites and a transmission line corridor.

The sites and associated transmission line corridor are about 120 kilometers north of Vancouver in the Toba Valley, Powell River, and Jervis Inlet regions, along B.C.’s southwest coast.

The Integrated Land Management Bureau granted an investigative use permit for 13,847 hectares where Hawkeye proposes to build the projects and a 150-kilometer transmission line corridor. The permit enables Hawkeye to continue advancing the projects in the provincial and federal environmental permitting process, Hawkeye President Greg Neeld said.

Hawkeye offered Phase 1 of a multi-billion-dollar hydroelectric complex to BC Hydro’s Clean Power Call in November 2008. The developer proposed 12 hydro projects totaling 180 MW in the Toba Valley, Powell River, and Jervis Inlet regions.

Under the investigative use permit, Hawkeye plans to continue work programs involving vegetation and wildlife studies, archaeological studies in conjunction with local First Nations, and engineering studies involving surveys, ground examination, and visual inspection. Hawkeye also plans to continue biological studies, such as fish habitat and fish sampling, and hydrology studies.

Innergex commissions 23-MW Umbata Falls

Innergex Renewable Energy Inc. reports it has commissioned the 23-MW Umbata Falls hydroelectric project in Ontario, built in partnership with the Ojibways of Pic River First Nation.

Innergex announced in January that performance tests made at the power plant satisfied Ontario Power Authority (OPA) requirements. OPA has agreed to purchase the project’s generation for the next 20 years. Umbata Falls is expected annually to generate an average of 109 gigawatt-hours.

Following completion of the performance tests, the official commercial operation date was set retroactively, to Nov. 12, 2008, Innergex said. Construction began in June 2006.

The project is located on the White River, a tributary of Lake Superior, about 30 kilometers southeast of Marathon. It features two 11.8-MW horizontal axis turbines with a combined rated flow of 75 cubic meters per second.

The C$60 million (US$47.4 million) project is owned by Umbata Falls L.P. Begetekong Power Corp., 49 percent of which is owned by Innergex Renewable Energy and 51 percent of which is owned by the Ojibways.

Umbata Falls is certified by EcoLogo and benefits from the federal government’s ecoEnergy for Renewable Power Initiative, which supports renewable energy in Canada. The program provides a C$10 (US$8.5) per megawatt-hour incentive payment for the first ten years of operation.

Ontario utility, First Nation prepare for Lac Seul start up

Ontario Power Generation (OPG) and its project partner, the Lac Seul First Nation, plan to begin joint operation in early 2009 of the 12.5-MW Lac Seul hydroelectric project, an extension of OPG’s 18.5-MW Ear Falls project on Ontario’s English River.

Construction of Lac Seul has been ongoing, under a 2006 agreement between OPG and the Lac Seul First Nation in which the First Nation is to own 25 percent of the new hydro project.

The utility and the native group signed an agreement in December 2008, formally creating the equity partnership under which the Lac Seul First Nation is purchasing 25 percent of the hydro plant. Future profits and risks are to be shared by OPG and the First Nation.

OPG Chairman Jake Epp said the partnership marks a new way of doing business for the utility. “OPG will use this approach to develop similar projects with other First Nations, and we’ve created a new way of growing our business. We’re moving towards a future where development of clean, renewable hydroelectric projects proceeds in a way that is fair to all parties and is based on trust and respect,” Epp said.

Chief Clifford Bull of the Lac Seul First Nation said all parties should take pride in the announcement. “It marks the end of an era when our rights and our history were ignored and launches an era where we’re treated as equals,” Bull said.

The partnership stemmed from a 2006 grievance settlement that addressed the effect of hydroelectric facilities that were built between 1930 and 1948 on traditional lands of the Lac Seul First Nation on the English River system.

Ontario Power Generation sees delays for Beck tunnel

The in-service date of a new power tunnel for Ontario Power Generation’s (OPG) 2,000-MW Sir Adam Beck generating complex at Niagara Falls will be extended, the utility reported.

At one time, the tunnel was scheduled for completion in 2010. However, Strabag AG of Austria, the contractor digging the 10.4-kilometer tunnel, advises the in-service date will be delayed, and is investigating alternatives, including rerouting a portion of the tunnel to mitigate the effect of the delay.

OPG and Strabag are using recommendations from a dispute review board as a basis for negotiating revisions to the contract. Negotiations could be completed by April, OPG said in a quarterly financial report.

The province initially said it would invest C$985 million (US$778.6 million) in the tunnel. However, revisions could significantly affect cost and schedule, OPG said.

A 2,000-ton tunnel boring machine, dubbed “Big Becky,” advanced 3,124 meters by the end of the third quarter of 2008, roughly one-third of the length needed.

Once completed, the new tunnel beneath the city of Niagara Falls will supply additional water from the Niagara River above Niagara Falls to the Beck complex, boosting generation of existing turbines. It should increase annual generation by 1.6 terawatt-hours, the government said.

– Read more about the project in Hydro Review’s July 2008 edition, “Increasing Power Generation at Niagara Falls,” by Richard A. Everdell (pages 24-28).

Klohn Crippen Berger among best managed companies

Klohn Crippen Berger Ltd. is one of Canada’s 50 best managed companies, as determined by a national program sponsored by Deloitte, CIBC Commercial Banking, National Post, and Queens School of Business.

The engineering and environmental consulting firm, headquartered in Vancouver, was among four companies based in British Columbia to be selected.

The 2009 award recognizes best management practices that incorporate technical ability, human resources, financial performance, business management, and social responsibility.

According to the selection committee, Klohn Crippen Berger’s management strengths include integration of technical capability in design engineering with environmental sciences, and the ability to export its capability to overseas markets for more than 30 years.

The 50 Best Managed Companies program tracks excellence for Canadian-owned and managed companies with revenues greater than C$10 million (US$8 million).

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