Replacement of John Hart hydroelectric plant under way
Replacement of the 126-MW John Hart plant has begun, following a ceremony that featured British Columbia’s Minister of Energy and Mines Bill Bennett.The US$94 million upgrade is the largest project undertaken by owner BC Hydro since the 1980s, the utility said, and will take five years to complete.
John Hart has been in operation since 1957 but is being replaced due to concerns about its safety, reliability and environmental impact. The B.C. Utilities Commission approved in February plans to replace the 65-year-old powerhouse on the Campbell River and to increase its installed capacity to 138 MW.
Preparatory work began in spring 2013 and included road, parking lot and trail realignment, as well as investigative drilling. Crews have now begun excavating the site in preparation for tunneling in the fall for the new generating station’s underground penstocks. Construction is expected to peak in 2016 with 360 workers on-site.
The US$984 million to US$1.18 billion project includes a new replacement intake at the John Hart Spillway Dam, replacement of a 2.1-km-diameter tunnel with three 1.8-km-diameter pipelines, construction of a replacement power plant next to the existing one, and building of a new water bypass.
Innergex completes acquisition of Sainte-Marguerite 1 plant
Innergex Renewable Energy Inc. and the Desjardins Group Pension Plan have completed their acquisition of the 30.5-MW Sainte-Marguerite 1 plant from the Hydromega Group.
Located near Sept-Iles, Quebec, the run-of-river plant was originally commissioned in 1993 with one 8.5-MW turbine-generator unit. Two additional units were installed in 2002, raising the project’s output capacity to its current level.
“The acquisition of the Sainte-Marguerite 1 facility provides us with both immediate contributions to cash flows and a quality hydro asset with a very high long-term value,” Innergex Chief Executive Officer Michel Letellier said. “We are very pleased to have developed a transaction structure that allows us to compete in acquiring renewable energy infrastructure assets at prevailing market prices, while leveraging the low capital cost and long-term horizon of a pension fund … to achieve an attractive after-tax internal rate of return for our shareholders.”
Energy generated by the plant is covered by two fixed-price, 25-year power purchase agreements with Hydro-Quebec: one for 8.5 MW maturing in 2018 that provides an annual increase in the selling price of 3% to 6% and a second for 22 MW maturing in 2027 that provides for an annual increase in the selling price of 2%. Both agreements contain a renewable option for an additional 25-year term.
Innergex said it expects the plant to generate annualized revenues of about US$10.3 million.
Manitoba Hydro signs deal to provide electricity to SaskPower
Manitoba Hydro has finalized a deal that will see the utility supply 25 MW of electricity to SaskPower from November 2015 to May 2022.
The agreement is worth more than US$93 million when combined with another recent short-term sale between the utilities, Manitoba Hydro said, with more potential SaskPower purchases coming in the future.
“This 25 MW deal represents the first long-term firm sale between the two provinces in recent memory,” Manitoba Hydro President and Chief Executive Officer Scott Thomson said. “It demonstrates that the demand for renewable hydroelectricity from Manitoba — demand that we are working to convert into long-term export sales — is growing not just in the United States, but in Canada as well.”
Manitoba Hydro operates 15 hydropower plants that generate nearly all the province’s electricity.
First Nations, CEBC agree on small hydro development
A memorandum of understanding signed recently sets up an agreement between British Columbia First Nations and the Clean Energy Association of BC (CEBC) to cooperate in developing the province’s renewable sector, including hydropower.
The document — signed by 13 First Nations groups, the First Nations Energy and Mining Council and CEBC — also includes wind, biomass, biogas, solar, geothermal and natural gas generation.
British Columbia is home to 125 First Nations groups that have had some involvement in the development of renewable energy, CEBC said, and all are still welcome to sign the memorandum.
“Working with First Nations is a key part of doing business in British Columbia, and this MOU will help to strengthen these important partnerships,” Minister of Energy and Mines Bill Bennett said.