Hydropower

Canadian Spotlight

Issue 5 and Volume 33.

Yukon unveils long-term plan for hydroelectric development

The Yukon government has released a planning directive that calls for the comprehensive investigation of new large-scale hydroelectric power projects in the northwestern territory to assist in meeting the growing demand for power.

Called “Next Generation Hydro for Yukon,” the report was prepared in conjunction with the Yukon Development Corporation (YDC) and was intended to create a long-term plan for Yukon’s power supply.

“This work plan is a blueprint for identifying and investigating potential new hydroelectric power sites,” said Scott Kent, Yukon’s minister responsible for YDC.

The plan is a product of subsection 6(1) of the Yukon Development Corporation Act, which in November 2013 directed YDC to plan one or more hydropower projects to meet Yukon’s expected growth in demand.

According to the report, more than 95% of Yukon’s energy is produced by hydroelectric sources. However, the territory lacks transmission lines to import power. Yukon’s projected 10% growth in population through 2019 further accentuates its need for additional capacity.

The first phase of the plan was to begin in May 2014 and conclude next May, with actions that included: hiring a project coordinator and creating a technical advisory committee; commissioning technical work; identifying potential partnerships; and identifying options for location and financing.

Yukon’s hydroelectric power is generated by four plants: 40-MW Whitehorse, 37-MW Aishihik, 15-MW Mayo and 1.3-MW Fish Lake.

Voith Hydro wins contract for Kettle generator rehab

Manitoba Hydro has awarded a service contract to Voith Hydro as part of an extensive modernization of three generator units at the 1,220-MW Kettle hydropower project.

Per the contract award, Voith Hydro will replace the stator frames, supply pole re-insulation services, and provide new cores, windings and coolers. Each of the refurbished generator units will be rated at 120 MVa, the company said.

The Kettle hydroelectric plant is the second-largest in the province. The project was commissioned by Manitoba Hydro in the early 1970s and is currently undergoing a gradual rehabilitation and modernization project intended to extend its life.

Site C hydropower project clears CEAA environmental review

Development of BC Hydro’s 1,100-MW Peace River Site C hydropower project is moving forward after the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency’s Joint Review Panel completed a review in May.

The environmental report has been passed to Canada’s Minister of the Environment and the province’s Environmental Assessment Office for further review.

The British Columbia government said the agencies will have until September to make a final recommendation on the project before passing it to the government for final approval.

Site C would be the third hydroelectric project on the Peace River in northeastern British Columbia, joining 2,730-MW G.M. Shrum and 694-MW Peace Canyon Dam. In 1976, BC Hydro chose Site C for potential development after finding Peace River Sites A, B, D and E were not viable.

Site C is included in BC Hydro’s Integrated Resource Plan detailing how the utility plans to meet an expected 40% increase in British Columbia’s electricity demand over the next 20 years. BC Hydro noted Site C still requires environmental certification, other regulatory permits and authorizations, and approvals before it can begin construction.

Last year, the utility took bids for geotechnical surveying and drilling services at the project.

Switchgear work planned at Grand Rapids, Seven Sisters

Manitoba Hydro has sought bids for circuit breakers and switchgear modifications at the 479-MW Grand Rapids and 165-MW Seven Sisters hydroelectric projects in May, indicating plans for considerable work on both projects.

Built in 1968 on the Saskatchewan River, Grand Rapids features four turbine-generator units. The Seven Sisters plant was built in 1952 on the Winnipeg River and includes six turbine-generating units.

Manitoba Hydro plans to install one low-voltage circuit breaker, as well as 600-volt switchgear modifications for each project.

The utility also called for bids in April for a broad range of civil engineering services to its dams, hydroelectric projects and other facilities in Manitoba.

195-MW Forrest Kerr plant nears completion

Canadian utility AltaGas Ltd. has announced the start of waterflow at its 195-MW Forrest Kerr hydropower project.

The weir, intake structure, desanding area and radial gate control valve have all been commissioned, AltaGas said, while water has begun filling the power tunnel over a seven-day period in preparation for full-speed, no-load testing on the turbines and auxiliary systems.

“We are very close to starting up our Forrest Kerr facility and providing clean energy to the BC electricity grid,” AltaGas Chief Executive Officer David Cornhill said.

The company said it expects the run-of-river plant to begin generating power later this year, subject to the availability of the Northwest Transmission Line (NTL).

AtlaGas Ltd. announced in June 2010 that the utility had signed a 60-year CPI indexed electricity purchase agreement with BC Hydro for power generated at the hydro plant.

Forrest Kerr is located wholly within Tahltan First Nations traditional territory and is estimated to cost about US$640 million. The plant draws water from the Iskut River. The project is one of a trio of projects under development by AltaGas on the Iskut River. The 66-MW McLymont Creek and 16-MW Volcano Creek projects are also being developed and will be commissioned in the next few years.

For more on the Forrest Kerr project, see the article on page 14.

Melting glaciers in BC could impact provincial infrastructure

A recently released report from the U.S. National Climate Assessment states that melting glaciers in British Columbia and Alasks may have strong implications on infrastructure.

The trend of melting glaciers “is expected to continue and has implications for hydropower production, ocean circulation patterns, fisheries, and global sea level rise,” the report states. In comparison to the retreating glaciers in Greenland, only 20 to 30 per cent of the ice is melting. It is still considered to be some of the fastest glacial loss on the planet, attributed to the rising planetary temperature.

Reearchers are watching several of the icefields in BC closely, including the Llord George, Caste Creek, Klinaklini and Tiedemann glaciers. The loss in these areas can have strong consequences. A loss in glacial water can affect water temperatures, the ecosystem for fish, and the snow pack, all of which affect agriculture, hydropower and water supply downstream.