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    Nalcor courts engineers for 2,824-MW Lower Churchill

    Newfoundland and Labrador’s electric utility issued an expression of interest to six engineering and project management companies to gauge their interest in bidding for detailed engineering design of the 2,824-MW Lower Churchill project in Canada’s Labrador region.

    Nalcor Energy, parent of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, said it issued the call to:

      – Bechtel Infrastructure Corp., Frederick, Md., U.S.;
      – Black & Veatch Corp., Kansas City, Mo., U.S.;
      – Hatch Ltd., St. John’s, Newfoundland;
      – MWH Americas Inc., Chicago, Ill., U.S.;
      – SNC-Lavalin Inc., St. John’s, Newfoundland; and
      – URS Corp., New York, N.Y., U.S.

    Nalcor proposes the C$9 billion (US$7.1 billion) project for two sites on the Lower Churchill River in Labrador, 2,000-MW Gull Island and 824-MW Muskrat Falls.

    “The release of this expression of interest is consistent with Nalcor Energy’s gateway planning methodology and will ensure that we are prepared for future activities should the project proceed to the development phase,” Lower Churchill Project Vice President Gilbert Bennett said.

    As part of its overall assessment, Nalcor asked potential bidders to provide details of their plans to optimize project benefits locally and to the province.

    Nalcor releases Lower Churchill environmental statement

    Nalcor Energy also prepared an environmental impact statement (EIS) for the project. The EIS will be distributed and reviewed by a five-member, federal-province joint review panel.

    The public also will have an opportunity to consider and respond to the EIS through public hearings convened by the panel. The environmental assessment process is expected to be completed in 2010, the utility said.

    “We are very pleased to move to the next phase of assessing the potential development,” Bennett said. “In preparation for this submittal, we have consulted with communities and groups throughout the province. They provided invaluable input to the process and the ultimate EIS.”

    Analysis of data and results of consultations indicate the project would provide long-term sustainable economic and social benefits to the province, Nalcor Energy said.

    British Columbia approves 49.9-MW Kwoiek Creek

    British Columbia issued an environmental assessment certificate necessary to develop the proposed 49.9-MW Kwoiek Creek hydroelectric project.

    B.C. Environment Minister Barry Penner and Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources Minister Blair Lekstrom announced the decision following a review by the province’s Environmental Assessment Office (EAO).

    Kwoeik Creek Resources L.P., a joint venture of Innergex II Power Trust and the Kanaka Bar Indian Band, is developing the run-of-river project. Innergex is responsible for management of project construction and operation. The C$152 million (US$123 million) project is proposed for a site on Kwoiek Creek on the west side of Fraser Canyon about 14 kilometers south of Lytton.

    An 80-kilometer transmission line also will be built between the project and the Highland Valley substation near Ashcroft, delivering electricity to BC Hydro under a long-term contract awarded in 2006.

    The EAO concluded the project is not likely to have significant adverse effects, based on mitigation measures and commitments included as conditions of the environmental assessment certificate.

    The certificate includes 74 commitments Kwoiek Creek Resources L.P. must implement throughout various stages of the project. Key commitments include: providing fish passage around a project diversion structure; maintaining in-stream flows to protect fish and fish habitat; and developing mitigation/compensation, access management, and monitoring plans in consultation with regulatory agencies.

    If the project advances, as many as 120 direct construction jobs are expected to be created for two years, with additional indirect employment for provision of services to support construction activities and workers, the Environment Ministry said. The developer has committed to providing opportunities to workers within First Nations, and is expected to pay the B.C. government C$670,000 (US$543 million) annually in water rental fees and another C$600,000 (US $486,000) annually in property taxes.

    Canada to pay C$72 million to 196-MW East Toba-Montrose

    The government of Canada is to pay a financial incentive worth as much as C$72.7 million (US$57.4 million) over ten years to the owners of the 123-MW East Toba River and 73-MW Montrose Creek hydroelectric project in British Columbia.

    The federal government said it would provide the incentive from its C$1.48 billion (US$1.17 billion) ecoEnergy for Renewable Power Program. The program offers a C$10 (US$7.89) per megawatt-hour (MWh) incentive for electricity produced by low-impact, renewable electricity projects for ten years after commissioning.

    EcoEnergy payments for East Toba River and Montrose Creek are capped at C$7.27 million (US$5.74 million) annually, and C$72.7 million for the 10-year period. Payments are to begin upon commissioning of the C$660 million (US$521 million) project, on schedule for completion in mid-2010. The project is expected to generate 726,950 MWh annually.

    Plutonic Power Corp. and GE Financial Services are partners in the Toba Montrose General Partnership. The partnership is building the run-of-river project in the Toba River Valley 150 kilometers north of Powell River, B.C.

    The partnership announced the signing of an agreement to accept funds from the ecoEnergy program in February.

    Swift Power reaches MOU for 20-MW Dasque Cluster

    Swift Power Corp. and the Kitselas First Nation signed a memorandum of understanding to work together to develop the 20-MW Dasque Cluster hydroelectric project.

    The project is proposed for a site 20 kilometers west of Terrace, B.C., within the First Nation’s traditional territory. The run-of-river hydropower cluster is proposed for two creeks – Dasque Creek and Middle Creek.

    Swift Power said it would consult with the First Nation on all phases of the project. A working group will oversee implementation of the accord, and promote and enhance communication, Swift Power said.

    Swift Power President Alexi Zawadzki said his company welcomes the opportunity to work with the First Nation.

    “The Kitselas have a strong background in natural resources management and development, and bring skills required to collect, analyze, and interpret traditional and environmental information that is required for the completion of our permitting applications,” Zawadzki said. “This is of immediate benefit.”

    Swift Power offered up to 20 MW from the Dasque Cluster in BC Hydro’s Clean Power Call in 2008.

    Swift Power, an independent power project developer based in Vancouver, reports it holds rights to nine water license applications filed with the B.C. government for several sites.

    AbitibiBowater sells stake in 335-MW Manicouagan

    Newsprint manufacturer AbitibiBowater Inc. agreed to sell its 60 percent stake in the 335-MW Manicouagan hydroelectric project in Québec to utility Hydro-Québec.

    The non-binding agreement in principle calls for the province-owned utility to purchase the majority stake in the Manicouagan Power Co. project for C$615 million (US$484 million). American aluminum producer Alcoa Inc., which owns the remaining 40 percent, reportedly waived its option to buy the project.

    The sale is part of AbitibiBowater’s complex recapitalization plan, unveiled in March, which is intended to cut its net debt by US$2.4 billion.

    Manicouagan was built in 1949 on the Manicouagan River near Hydro-Québec’s Manic hydropower complex. Its sale is subject to terms and conditions including due diligence investigation, regulatory approvals, and definitive agreements including a long-term power sales contract with AbitibiBowater’s Baie-Comeau, Québec, paper mill.

    AbitibiBowater said the deal does not include sale of the Baie-Comeau paper mill and will not affect any of the company’s other hydroelectric projects. The paper maker’s other hydro assets include 162.5 MW of capacity in Québec.

    Toronto’s Globe and Mail reported in February that AbitibiBowater was prepared to sell its Ontario-based hydroelectric assets to Brookfield Asset Management Inc. AbitibiBowater said in December 2008 it had reached a preliminary agreement to sell its 75 percent stake in Ontario hydro asset owner ACH Limited Partnership to an unnamed buyer for C$540 million (US$443 million).

    Sale of Ontario hydro capacity totaling 138.8 MW is part of AbitibiBowater’s effort to sell non-core assets and reduce debt. The company’s Ontario projects include 12.8-MW Fort Frances, 25.2-MW Iroquois Falls, 47-MW Island Falls, and 22-MW Twin Falls.

    The hydro project sales came as AbitibiBowater contested plans by Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams to expropriate Abitibi’s hydroelectric assets in Newfoundland. The government eventually seized those assets, in March.

    Rio Tinto names Alstom to supply Québec’s 896-MW Shipshaw

    Anglo-Australian miner Rio Tinto Ltd. named Alstom Hydro Canada Inc. to supply a new 225-MW high-efficiency turbine for the 896-MW Shipshaw project in Saguenay, Québec.

    Rio Tinto announced the equipment contract in February but did not disclose terms and details of the award. It previously announced it would invest C$296 million (US$230 million) to construct the addition.

    Shipshaw powerhouse is a major component of Rio Tinto Alcan’s hydroelectric network, which features a total installed capacity of about 2,900 MW in Québec.

    The new unit will replace four turbine-generators at another project, the 78-year-old, 224-MW Chute-a-Caron project, promoting more efficient water use. The new unit is expected to be placed in operation in late 2012.

    Rio Tinto agreed in 2007 to buy Canada’s Alcan Inc. for C$49 billion (US$38 billion). At that time, it reiterated it would maintain Alcan’s commitment to invest some C$2.6 billion (US$2 billion) in Québec expansion projects and manage waterways on which it produces electricity for its smelters.

    Prior to purchase by Rio Tinto, Alcan started engineering work for the new Shipshaw turbine as part of a planned ten-year C$2.3 billion (US$1.8 billion) investment in company facilities in Québec’s Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean Region.

    BC Hydro names ABB to supply rehab equipment to G.M. Shrum

    BC Hydro named ABB to supply station service equipment for rehabilitation of the 2,730-MW G.M. Shrum hydroelectric project on British Columbia’s Peace River.

    The utility said it would award an C$18 million (US$14 million) contract that calls for ABB to supply medium-voltage and low-voltage switchgear, dry-type transformers, cables, and other equipment to the project, at Hudson’s Hope, B.C. BC Hydro solicited bids for the work in 2008.

    ABB also is to conduct system studies and provide complete engineering, installation, and commissioning services. The work is to be carried out in three stages, with the first to be completed by August and the others in 2010 and 2011.

    “Among our greatest challenges with this contract was to develop effective ways of upgrading BC Hydro’s system without interrupting operations at its plant,” Vice President Greg Farthing of ABB’s Power Projects & Systems.

    Farthing said the contractor also has to complete the work on schedule, safely, and with respect for the environment.

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