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BC Hydro advances 36 hydro projects in Clean Power Call

BC Hydro announced a total of 47 British Columbia renewable energy projects, including 36 hydro projects, remain under consideration for power purchases under its 2008 Clean Power Call.

In November 2009, the provincial utility said it would begin discussions with the developers of 13 proposed hydroelectric and wind power projects that it identified as the most cost-effective. Additionally, BC Hydro will offer developers of the other 34 projects the opportunity to make their proposals more cost-effective.

By technology, the remaining projects are 36 hydro, 10 wind, and one waste heat project.

Another 21 renewable energy projects were eliminated from consideration. The Clean Power Call originally received 68 proposals representing more than 17,000 gigawatt-hours of hydropower, wind, waste heat, biogas, and biomass.

"BC Hydro is committed to working with companies that provide clean, renewable power to find new sources of cost-effective energy to help meet new energy demand as we look towards serving future generations of customers in the province," BC Hydro President Bob Elton said.

BC Hydro was expected to begin awarding contracts in December 2009.

Hydro-Quebec planning hydroelectric projects

Hydro-Quebec plans to invest $23 billion in new hydro projects and in expanding its existing fleet between 2009-2013, according to the utility's strategic plan.

While net exports of electricity are expected to grow from eight percent of volume in 2008 to 12 per cent in 2013, these exports are expected to earn less revenue for the utility.

Among Hydro-Quebec's recent moves toward expansion is an agreement to purchase New Brunswick Power assets.

New dam wins support from First Nation

A proposal to build a 250-MW hydroelectric plant on the Saskatchewan River received a boost from members of the James Smith Cree Nation. In a recent referendum, about 96 percent of the First Nation members voted for the Pehonan project, Chief Wally Burns told CBC News.

"I was surprised," Burns said. "A lot of our younger generation came out and voted, and it was overwhelming."

The dam would be built across the Saskatchewan River where the North and South Saskatchewan rivers meet. The new dam will have little effect on the local ecosystem, said Andy McPhee, vice president of Brookfield Renewable Power, a project partner.

The plant is expected to begin commercial operations in about five years.

OPA agrees to buy power from Brookfield hydroelectric plants

The Ontario Power Authority (OPA) agreed to buy all of the output from 16 hydroelectric plants operated and owned by Brookfield Renewable Power Inc.

The plants have a combined capacity of 837 MW and generate about 2,300 gigawatt-hours each year. Under the 20-year supply contract, OPA will pay a base price of C$69 (US$64) per megawatt-hour, in addition to payments for on-peak production. The base price and peaking premium will be increased annually, Brookfield said.

Brookfield will begin delivering power to OPA December 1, 2009. Ontario's energy minister directed OPA to enhance its 20-year energy plan by expanding the grid to harness more renewable power.

Nalcor Energy turns to PUB for water management

Nalcor Energy asked the Public Utilities Board (PUB) to establish a water management agreement between Nalcor and the Churchill Falls Corp.

The request comes after several months of negotiations. The negotiating teams for both Nalcor and Churchill Falls submitted a proposed agreement to the Churchill Board of Directors in September 2009, but the board rejected the proposal.

A water management agreement is required for the 2,824-MW Lower Churchill project on the lower Churchill River, Nalcor said. Under Canadian law, hydroelectric operators can ask PUB to establish a water management agreement when negotiations between the operators fail.

Nalcor filed its application for a water management agreement with PUB on November 10, 2009.

In 2008, three energy companies – Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, Emera Inc. and Emera subsidiary Nova Scotia Power Inc. – announced they would explore options for exporting power from the proposed Lower Churchill project to Canada's Maritime provinces, including Nova Scotia, and to New England in the U.S.

Algonquin Power acquires three hydroelectric stations

Algonquin Power & Utilities Corp. will buy three hydroelectric generating stations in New Brunswick and Maine from Integrys Energy Services Inc.

The purchase price was not disclosed due to confidentiality provisions. The deal, which was expected to close by mid-January, involves 36.8 MW of hydropower capacity, five thermal generating stations, and related transmission lines, Algonquin Power said.

"The addition of these assets is expected to deliver growth of more than 10 percent in our renewable energy business, reinforcing Algonquin's strategic focus on the renewable energy sector," said Ian Robertson, a senior officer for Algonquin.

The hydroelectric plants serve markets in Northern Maine, New Brunswick, and New England, the company said. Each plant is operating under firm sale contracts that run through February 2011.

Green Energy Act dominates Power of Water Conference

Ontario's Green Energy Act, enacted in September 2009, dominated discussions at the 2009 Power of Water Conference, held October 15-16 by the Ontario Waterpower Association in Ottawa.

About 225 delegates attended the two-day event, which featured several keynote speakers, including Natural Resources Minister Donna Cansfield.

The Green Energy Act, which includes a feed-in-tariff program for renewable energy producers, has been described as groundbreaking policy by many renewable energy experts. "The act is helping us meet our commitment to eliminate coal-fired power by 2014," Cansfield said. "It is the single largest climate change initiative in Canada."

The feed-in-tariff program includes price supports for hydropower. Under the program, hydropower producers will be paid 13.1 cents per kilowatt-hour for up to 10 MW over a 40-year term. The rate is 12.2 cents for 10 MW to 50 MW over the same period.

Cansfield noted that a feasibility study on the proposed 25-MW Newpost Creek hydro project in Little Abitibi Provincial Park is nearly complete. "Once it is finalized, it will give us the framework of policy that would allow us to consider taking steps to enable waterpower development of key potential hydropower sites that are within protected areas," she said.

Plutonic Power raises C$70 million for projects

Hydropower producer Plutonic Power Corp. said it will raise about C$70.4 million (US$66.3 million) through the sale of common stock to support in part the construction of the 196-MW Toba-Montrose hydroelectric project.

A syndicate of underwriters led by Cormark Securities has agreed to buy 21 million Plutonic shares for $3.35 per share.

Proceeds from the sale will be used to build a transmission line that will carry power from two run-of-river hydro projects in the Toba Inlet-Montrose corridor. The project is under construction and is expected to begin commercial production in 2010. Proceeds also will be used to fund the acquisition of the Dokie Ridge wind power project in Western Canada.

The Toba-Montrose project will displace about 455,000 tons of greenhouse gases, equivalent to removing 80,000 cars from the road, the company said.

Hydro-Quebec awards contract for work on Romaine complex

Hydro-Quebec has awarded a C$5.2 million (US$4.9 million) contract to Thirau, a subsidiary of CVTech Group Inc., for work on the 1,550-MW Romaine hydroelectric complex on the North Shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence in Quebec.

Under the contract, Thirau will build a 34.5-kilovolt overhead network to supply power to the Des Murailles camp and adjoining worksite. Work began in October 2009 and was expected to continue for about five months, CVTech said.

Construction of the four-powerhouse Romaine complex began in May 2009. All four powerhouses are expected to be completed by 2020, with the first unit (Romaine 2) scheduled for commissioning in late 2014. Together, the four powerhouses will generate 8 terawatt-hours annually.

The construction project is expected to pump C$3.5 billion (US$3 billion) into Quebec's economy through new contracts and the purchase of goods and services, the company said.

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