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Panel urges alternatives to Lower Churchill project

A joint panel of the Canadian and Newfoundland governments is urging more study of energy alternatives to the 3,074-MW Lower Churchill hydroelectric project. It said if viable alternatives are found, the first-phase 824-MW Muskrat Falls hydro plant should not be built.

The project includes the 824-MW Muskrat Falls and 2,250-MW Gull Island hydro plants to be built on mainland Labrador with transmission lines to deliver power to Newfoundland Island and to export markets.

The joint panel said Nalcor Energy, parent of province utility Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, failed to justify the C$6.4 billion project in either energy or economic terms. It said there were outstanding questions about both hydro plants’ ability to deliver long-term financial benefits to the province.

Nalcor President Ed Martin met with reporters following the release of the report, saying he was surprised and disappointed that the environmental assessment concluded Nalcor failed to prove the need for the project. However, Martin was quoted saying Nalcor is open to other ideas and that two independent reviews of the project are under way.

(For more details, see the cover story on pg. 8)

Construction contract awarded for Northwest Transmission Line

A contract to design the Northwest Transmission Line was awarded to Valard Construction and Burns & McDonnell, BC Hydro said.

The 344-kilometer, 287-kilovolt transmission line from Skeena Substation to Bob Quinn Lake is part of BC Hydro’s plan to expand its electricity system. The transmission line is expected to be in service in December 2013.

“We are pleased to have selected two high-quality contractors in the team of Valard Construction and Burns & McDonnell to build and design the Northwest Transmission Line,” said BC Hydro President and CEO Dave Cobb. “Both companies are leaders in the industry and these companies will provide the highest overall value to our ratepayers at the most cost-effective price.”

The transmission project is expected to create up to 840 direct jobs during the three years of construction. The project could attract up to C$15 billion in new investment and create more than 10,000 jobs over the next few decades, according to a 2008 report from the Mining Association of British Columbia.

Manitoba to proceed with Keeyask hydro development

Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger said Manitoba Hydro, in partnership with four Keeyask Cree Nations, will begin to develop the 695-MW Keeyask hydropower project this summer, starting with the construction of a 25-kilometer access road to the site.

The Keeyask hydro station, on hold since 2009 when the Keeyask Hydropower Limited Partnership was formally established, is moving ahead to fulfill C$4 billion in export sales agreements that Manitoba Hydro signed with Minnesota and Wisconsin utilities.

The premier announced recently that sales agreements to supply power to three U.S. utilities would require the building of the Keeyask station.

Construction of the Keeyask station will take seven years, with the first unit coming online in 2019 and all seven units in operation by 2021.

Sprott Power sells hydropower assets

Sprott Power Corp. agreed to sell its partnership interests in several hydropower projects in northwestern British Columbia to its partner, Anyox Hydro Electric Corp.

The C$4.8 million sale includes the 30-MW Anyox Creek Hydroelectric Project and other nearby hydro assets. The deal was scheduled to close Sept. 30

“Our existing partner was in the best position to successfully develop these assets,” said Jeff Jenner, president and chief executive officer of Sprott Power. “The cash provided from this sale will be utilized to expand our project portfolio, as we continue to purchase renewable energy development and operational assets in North America.”

Jeff Wolrige, president of Anyox Hydro said the company is “very excited about owning these hydro projects, particularly with the anticipated demand for power as a result of the significant precious mateals mining renaissance in the immediate project area.”

Sprott Power is a developer, owner and operator of renewable energy.

Trent University hydro station rehab to cost C$20 million

Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario, is planning to rehabilitate a hydroelectric power station the university owns and operates on the Otanabee River.

The university generates electricity to cover about 40 percent of the power used at the main campus, university officials said. The university saves up to C$800,000 annually by generating hydroelectric power.

With the updated powerhouse, the university will sell all electricity it generates to the provincial power grid through the Feed-in Tariff program for renewable energy production, then purchase the electricity it needs at the regular rates. Trent plans to begin the hydro rehab project in 2012.

The Stan Adamson Powerhouse, which is to be rebuilt and upgraded, was built in 1921, replacing a powerhouse that was built in the 1890s.

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