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Governments allot contract opportunities for Lower Churchill

The governments of Newfoundland and Labrador and of Nova Scotia completed a memorandum of agreement in November 2011 dividing up business and employment opportunities for the 3,074 MW Lower Churchill project.

“This development is a game changer for Nova Scotia and the entire Atlantic region,” according to Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter. “The finalized agreement sets the stage for Nova Scotia companies and workers to access opportunities in this enormous project.”

The C$6.2 billion (US$6.1 billion) Lower Churchill project includes the 824-MW Muskrat Falls and 2,250-MW Gull Island plants on the Churchill River in Labrador, plus transmission links to Newfoundland Island, Nova Scotia and New England.

The memorandum outlines industrial and employment benefits from the three initial developments of the Lower Churchill project: the Muskrat Falls hydro plant, Labrador Island transmission link and Maritime transmission link. It provides Nova Scotia companies an opportunity to compete for all components of the project, with preference for Newfoundland and Labrador residents on the first two developments and equal access to jobs for Nova Scotia residents on the Maritime link. Nova Scotia said the agreement gives its residents access to thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts.

The agreement conforms to a July 2010 strategy adopted by Newfoundland and Labrador and its utility, Nalcor Energy, that first honors commitments to aboriginal groups and then residents of Newfoundland and Labrador in providing opportunities to work on the hydro plants and the transmission link to Newfoundland Island.

Additionally, Natural Resources Canada issued a joint statement with the two provinces, saying the three governments continue to work toward a loan guarantee for Lower Churchill. “The government of Canada, for its part, remains committed to a loan guarantee,” the statement said. “Our governments continue to meet and discuss this important project regularly as we move forward on providing all the data necessary.”

Nalcor Energy submitted a report to Newfoundland and Labrador in November 2011 supporting the big hydro project as the least-cost option for future power generation.

The Canada and Newfoundland governments also signed three agreements in November 2011 with the Innu of Labrador, enlisting the support of the native peoples in exchange for recognition of rights and pledges of economic benefits.

BC Hydro buying power from McLymont, Volcano

Provincial utility BC Hydro has signed agreements with AltaGas Ltd. to purchase electricity from the 66-MW McLymont Creek and 16-MW Volcano Creek projects under development.

“The McLymont Creek and Volcano Creek projects, in addition to our 195-MW Forrest Kerr project, represent a C$1 billion (US$979.6 million) investment in British Columbia,” AltaGas Chairman David Cornhill says. “These three projects align with our strategy of adding low-risk, long-life assets as we continue to build long-term contracted assets that will generate power and deliver strong shareholder value for generations to come.”

AltaGas and the Tahltan Central Council signed agreements in January 2012 to advance construction of McLymont Creek and Volcano Creek in Tahltan Nation territory. The projects are near, and share synergies and construction infrastructure with, the Forrest Kerr project, under construction on the Iskut River.

AltaGas said the power purchase agreements are similar in all respects to the 60-year CPI-indexed purchase agreement for Forrest Kerr, which was signed with BC Hydro in May 2010.

Together, the three hydro plants are known as the Northwest Projects. They are to deliver electricity to the 287-kV Northwest Transmission Line being built by BC Hydro.

AltaGas expects Forrest Kerr to begin service in 2014, followed by McLymont Creek and Volcano Creek in 2015.

Alstom opens hydroelectric power research facility

Alstom inaugurated its newest Global Technology Center (GTC) in November 2011 in Sorel-Tracy, Quebec. The center will focus on hydroelectric power.

Housed within Alstom’s existing North American hydro headquarters manufacturing and engineering facility, Alstom said the GTC will serve as the company’s global hub for innovation in hydro retrofit processes and technology.

The Sorel-Tracy GTC houses a team of Alstom research experts and engineers working with industry and academic partners to study improvements in retrofit techniques that can improve plant performance, availability and reliability without increasing overall plant size or environmental impact.

Edmundston Energy receives $2 million for hydropower project

Edmundston Energy will receive up to C$2 million (US$1.9 million) from the Canadian federal government for a hydroelectric modernization project.

The municipal power utility’s 4.05-MW Madawaska Hydrodam project will be constructed by Norcan Hydraulic Turbine Inc. The plant will generate 20 GWh of electricity each year.

“[The project] is helping create high-quality jobs and a sustainable energy source for New Brunswick’s future,” says Bernard Valcourt, Minister of State for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.

The Madawaska project is just part of the C$1.5 billion (US$1.4 billion) ecoENERGY for Renewable Power program that will provide a one cent per kWh incentive over 10 years. The goal is to increase Canada’s renewable electrical capacity by more than 4,000 MW.

ABB celebrates milestone at Canadian transformer factory

ABB’s large power transformer factory in Varennes, Quebec, recently celebrated 40 years of production. Opened in 1971 with slightly more than 100 people on staff, the plant currently employs more than 400.

The Varennes plant, part of ABB’s Power Products division within North America, produces power transformers ranging in capacity from 100 MVA to 1,200 MVA, shunt reactors and high-voltage direct current power transmission systems.

Selinger pitches power grid to Manitoba Senate committee

Manitoba Premier Gregory F. Selinger appeared at a Senate committee meeting in Winnipeg, Manitoba, in December 2011 to lobby for an east-west power grid that would allow the utility to sell power generated to other provinces in Canada, rather than exporting it to the U.S.

“The east-west grid provides an opportunity for us to start having a vision for a grid across the whole country for energy-security purposes,” Selinger told the seven-member Senate Committee on Energy, Environment and Natural Resources. “We think hydroelectricity can be part of a solution on having a good reputation for the whole country on clean-energy strategy.”

Selinger said keeping the power within the Canadian provinces would allow them to offset high energy costs for provinces that rely more on coal or nuclear power. He said Manitoba Hydro is looking at selling power to Saskatchewan and even Alberta. Selinger also said creation of this grid would be a significant boost to the national economy.

The Senate committee is preparing a report, to be delivered by June 2012, on how to protect Canada’s energy supply.

Selinger also called on the committee to streamline the approval process for massive projects like northern hydroelectric stations, but without shortcutting environmental and aboriginal concerns.

He said the C$1.3 billion (US$1.25 billion) Wuskwatim Dam near Thompson, Manitoba, took four years to be approved. The first of its three turbine-generator units, with a total capacity of 200 MW, should be in service later this winter and the last unit by spring 2012.

Utility to perform environmental study of Winnipeg River plants

Manitoba Hydro plans to hire a consultant to study its Winnipeg River hydroelectric projects. Main tasks include to: identify and synthesize existing scientific information and environmental studies; prepare a summary of environmental effects; identify gaps in knowledge and additional studies needed; and determine the scope of required studies.

The study area includes the Winnipeg River from Lamprey Falls upstream of the 78-MW Pointe du Bois project to the mouth of Traverse Bay downstream of the 88-MW Pine Falls project, and the south basin of Lake Winnipeg to the extent it is affected by the Pine Falls plant.

Other Manitoba Hydro projects on the Winnipeg include 133-MW Great Falls, 55-MW McArthur, 165-MW Seven Sisters and 67-MW Slave Falls.

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