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Hydro-Quebec celebrates 70th anniversary

Canadian provincial utility Hydro-Quebec celebrated its 70th anniversary in mid-April, noting that hydroelectric power was and continues to be part of the company's success.

Founded April 14, 1944, with the passage of an act establishing the Quebec Hydro-Electric Commission, Hydro-Quebec wasted little time breaking ground on its 1,178-MW Bersimis 1 and 869-MW Bersimis 2 hydro plants.

The boom in energy demand post-World War II quickly necessitated the construction of additional projects, with hydro plants on the Manicouagan River and Riviere Aux Outardes being built in the late 1950s.

Hydro-Quebec faced a pivotal moment in fall 1962 when the provincial government, headed by Jean Lesage, proposed the nationalization of all power utilities under the election slogan "Maitres Chez Nous," or "Masters in Our Own House." The movement led Hydro-Quebec to purchase 10 privately-held electric companies in May 1963 under the direction of Rene Levesque.

Since then, the utility has faced a number of challenges, including standardizing rates throughout the province, electrifying rural areas and setting up an effective distribution grid.

The company now operates 61 hydro projects that have a cumulative capacity of more than 36,000 MW, manages 34,000 km of transmission lines, employees 20,000 people, supplies 4.1 million customers and controls assets worth US$66.6 million.

Changes to Upper Lillooet hydropower project

Canadian power producer Innergex Renewable Energy Inc. has reached agreements with provincial utility BC Hydro regarding components of the Upper Lillooet hydropower project.

The Upper Lillooet project - which would have included the 74-MW Upper Lillooet, 23-MW Boulder Creek and 16-MW North Creek hydropower stations - will be located on Crown land in British Columbia.

The project was granted environmental assessment certificates from the British Columbia government this past January.

The new agreement increases Upper Lillooet's capacity to 81.4 MW and Boulder Creek's to 25.3 MW. Meanwhile, the North Creek hydroelectric plant has been cancelled.

The project is being developed by Creek Power Inc., which is a joint venture between Innergex and the Ledcor Power Group Ltd.

Partnership announced for Jimmie Creek project

Alterra Power Corp. and Fiera Axium Infrastructure Inc. have announced a partnership agreement for the ownership and construction of the 62-MW Jimmie Creek hydroelectric plant. Under the deal, Alterra will own 51% of the project, while Fiera will own the remainder through a managed fund.

Alterra assumed 100% ownership of the project in November 2013 from General Electric, after signing development agreements with the Klahoose First Nation for its construction in May 2012. Construction is under way, with an expected completion date in August 2016.

"We are delighted to add another hydropower project to our diversified fund portfolio," Fiera executive Dominic Chalifoux said.

All power generated by Jimmie Creek will be sold to BC Hydro under a 40-year contract. Financial closing for the deal was expected later this quarter.

Canadian developer eyes pumped-storage projects

Canadian company Turning Point Generation has announced its plan to develop a pumped-storage hydropower project in Alberta with a capacity of 80 to 150 MW.

The unnamed plant is TPG's first pumped-storage project, although one necessary, the company said, for the province's energy security.

TPG has identified several of what it calls "favorable" sites and will now move ahead on the project's development.

"This project is our most advanced, has exceptional inherent site characteristics and enjoys favorable reception from key stakeholders, including the First Nations involved," TPG official Peter Bubik said. "We believe the Alberta power market provides an economical basis for pumped-storage at this time and the market indications are showing increasingly favorable economics for pumped-storage in the future."

Briefly...

BC Hydro plans to conduct dam safety reviews at three dams: 22-MW La Joie Dam, 42-MW Seton Dam and Terzaghi Dam, which impounds water for two Bridge River generating stations.

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