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BC Hydro completes upgrades to Peace Canyon facility

BC Hydro completed the rehabilitation of its 700-MW Peace Canyon Generating Station on British Columbia's Peace River.

The rehabilitation involved replacing the stators, upgrading the rotors, and overhauling the turbines. Contractors involved included Mitsubishi, Weir Power and Industrial, Kiewit Corporation, VA Tech Hydro Canada Inc., and Acuren.

Work on the C$120 million (US$115.8 million) rehabilitation effort began in May 2006 and was completed on time. The rehabilitated facility was commissioned on October 31, 2009, and paperwork for the project will be finalized on March 31, 2010, said Dave Conway, Northern BC Hydro community relations manager.

The project cost came in C$6 million (US$5.8 million) under budget. The original budget was C$126 million (US$121.6 million). Further divided, that budget was C$81 million (US$78.2 million) for generators and C$45 million (US$43.4 million) for turbines, Conway said. The facility generates enough power for 300,000 Canadian homes.

"This is a major investment in our province's clean energy future," said Blair Lekstrom, minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources.

"Extending the life of this heritage asset is a cost-effective way of helping British Columbia achieve our Energy Plan goal of becoming electricity self-sufficient by 2016."

The Peace Canyon facility began generating power in April 1980. The dam, which created the Dinosaur Reservoir, is about 14 miles downstream from BC Hydro's 2,730-MW G.M. Shrum Generating Station.

TransAlta, Canadian Hydro agree on buyout offer

TransAlta Corp., after increasing its bid 15 percent, reached an agreement to buy Canadian Hydro Developers Inc. for C$755 million (US$727 million).

"The revised offer from TransAlta provides our shareholders with a premium and liquidity," said Dennis Erker, chairman of Canadian Hydro. "We are encouraging our shareholders to accept this offer."

TransAlta raised its bid to C$5.25 (US$5.06) a share after Canadian Hydro said it received other offers that beat TransAlta's original bid of C$4.55 (US$4.38) a share. TransAlta extended its bid four times as Canadian Hydro sought a better deal.

"Together, our two companies will have unparalleled operational and development expertise, a robust growth portfolio, a strong balance sheet, and will be well positioned as a North American leader in renewable energy," said Steve Snyder, president and chief executive officer of TransAlta.

The deal won unanimous support from the boards of both companies. The new offer requires approval from two-thirds of Canadian Hydro's shareholders.

Canadian Hydro operates 21 renewable energy plants totaling 694 MW of capacity. It has another 160 MW in or near construction, and 6,060 MW in development, including hydro, wind, and biomass.

Paper company sells stake in hydro plant

Insolvent paper company AbitibiBowater agreed to sell its share of the 335-MW Manicouagan hydropower plant to a new joint venture established by Hydro-Quebec and aluminum company Alcoa Inc.

The C$638 million (US$615 million) deal was expected to close Oct. 15. It involves AbitibiBowater's 60 percent stake in the plant. Alcoa holds the remaining 40 percent interest in the plant.

The Manicouagan hydropower plant was built in 1949 on the Manicouagan River near Hydro-Québec's Manic hydropower complex.

Also, the paper company will enter into a long-term contract with Hydro-Quebec for power supplies. AbitibiBowater owns or operates 24 pulp and paper facilities, 24 saw mills, five wood products facilities, and 32 recycling facilities in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and South Korea.

The paper company has C$6.2 billion (US$6 billion) of debt and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Proceeds from the sale will be used to pay down the company's debt.

Pristine Power buys a larger share in Kleana project

Pristine Power Inc. signed a deal to increase its stake in the proposed 600-MW Kleana hydropower project on the Klinaklini River in British Columbia.

The deal to increase the company's share to 47 percent from 10 percent includes fractional interests in several other hydropower projects under development, including the 300-MW Machmell River project, Pristine said.

The Kleana project would operate at 50 percent capacity and would include the construction of a 112-mile high-voltage transmission line that would tie into the Campbell River substation on Vancouver Island, the company said.

Pristine Power said it made a nominal payment for the additional 37 percent stake. Future payments will be based on project milestones, including the signing of a power purchase agreement, said Jeffry Myers, president and chief executive officer of Pristine Power.

"Our increased investment in the Kleana project underscores our fundamental belief in the quality of the Klinaklini River hydro resource," Myers said.

"The economies of scale, location, minimal environmental footprint, and local participation make this project one of the most compelling run-of-river projects in North America."

What's more, the acquisition would double Pristine's total generation, increasing it by 282 MW, Myers said.

Brookfield Power Fund completes purchase of 15 hydro plants

Brookfield Renewable Power Fund, formerly known as Great Lakes Hydro Income Fund, added to its portfolio and now owns 15 hydropower plants with a capacity of 387 MW from Brookfield Renewable Power Inc.

More than 90 percent of the fund's shareholders approved the acquisition earlier in 2009. The C$945 million (US$910 million) purchase also includes a proposed wind power project.

The deal increases the fund's portfolio of renewable power to 1,700 MW, including 42 hydropower plants and two wind farms.

The acquired hydro projects are:

– Great Lakes Power Ltd.'s 12 hydro projects totaling 349 MW on the Magpie, Michipicoten, Montreal, and St. Mary's rivers in northern Ontario;

– Hydro-Pontiac's Waltham and Coulonge projects totaling 28 MW on the Noire and Coulonge rivers in Quebec; and

– 10-MW Valerie Falls on the Seine River in Ontario.

Cruise ships plug into hydropower

Cruise ships docking at the Port of Vancouver are turning off their diesel-powered engines and tapping into hydropower generated by utility British Columbia Hydro.

Princess Cruises spent C$7.2 million (US$7 million) to equip its ships with new technology allowing them to plug into an onshore transformer at the Canadian port. It's a first for Canada and only the third of its kind in the world.

The clean onshore power source will be used to carry out the ships' services and will reduce emissions from the diesel engines of cruise ships in downtown Vancouver, said Charlie Ball, president of Princess Tours.

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