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Three BC projects receive environmental approval

A trio of Canadian hydropower projects were granted Environmental Assessment Certificates by the British Columbia government in January.

The 74-MW Upper Lillooet, 23-MW Boulder Creek and 16-MW North Creek hydro plants - all part of the Upper Lillooet Hydro Project (ULHP) - are located on Crown land. All of the plants will operate under 40-year power-purchase agreements with provincial utility BC Hydro as part of its 2008 Clean Power Call Request for Proposals.

ULHP is being developed by Creek Power Inc., which is a joint venture between Innergex Renewable Power Inc. (two-thirds) and the Ledcor Power Group Ltd. (one-third).

The certification stipulates that Creek Power will be responsible for meeting 37 conditions, chief amongst these being measures dedicated to preserving habitat for the region's grizzly bear population and fish.

Innergex said construction of the Boulder Creek and Upper Lillooet plants is expected to begin this year, with North Creek following in 2014.

Andritz Hydro receives Muskrat Falls hydro turbine contract

Andritz Hydro has received an order worth more than US$170 million from Nalcor Energy to supply hydro turbines and generator units for the 824-MW Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project to be built in Labrador.

Andritz said the order includes four Kaplan turbines and four synchronous generators, in addition to governors; static excitation systems; and monitoring, protection and control equipment. The company said commissioning is scheduled for 2017.

The US.4 billion Muskrat Falls plant is part of the Lower Churchill complex, which could also eventually include the 2,250-MW Gull Island project. Both would be located on the Churchill River in Labrador.

The project received the go-ahead from Premier Kathy Dunderdale in December 2012, following decades of controversy and opposition.

BC Hydro gets approval for John Hart plant replacement

The British Columbia Utilities Commission has given a go-ahead for the replacement of the 126-MW John Hart hydropower station on the Campbell River.

Replacement of the station is deemed the most cost-effective way of addressing a number issues associated with the current 65-year-old hydro plant. The company said the project will protect fish, reduce John Hart's footprint, power Vancouver Island and decrease seismic risk.

The new John Hart overhaul is expected to cost US$984 million to US$1.18 billion and will include a new replacement intake at the John Hart Spillway Dam, the replacement of an existing 2.1-kilometer-long tunnel with three 1.8-kilometer-long pipelines, the construction of a replacement power plant next to the existing one, and installation of a new water bypass.

Work on the project is expected to take five years and will create about 400 jobs, according to BC Hydro.

Alberta committee prepares report on hydro development

A report produced by the Alberta Legislature's Resource Stewardship Committee could help increase hydroelectric power in the northern part of the province.

The study, titled "Review of the Potential for Expanded Hydroelectric Energy Production in Northern Alberta," examines the economic and environmental advantages of hydro development within a framework of partnerships with aboriginal peoples and other provinces and territories.

"As Alberta begins replacing its primarily coal-fired electricity generation, it can draw on substantial hydro potential to replace that generation and help meet new demand," said Canadian Hydropower Association (CHA) President Jacob Irving.

CHA made a presentation to the committee this past October in preparation for the study, which was conducted in part due to the decommissioning of Alberta's coal plants under new federal rules.

According to CHA, hydroelectric power currently contributes just 2% of Alberta's electricity, while coal-fired generation accounts for 60%. However, the province has more than 11,000 MW of hydropower potential, making hydroelectric development an attractive option to increase baseload supply.

The country produces 60% of its power from hydroelectric sources, making Canada the world's third largest hydro generator. Still, CHA said the country can more than double its installed hydropower capacity.


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