Canadian News

Canada starts construction of 1,550-MW Romaine

Government, utility, and tribal officials launched construction in May of the 1,550-MW, four-powerhouse Romaine hydroelectric complex, on the North Shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence in Quebec.

Utility Hydro-Quebec began construction just days after the government of Canada announced it accepted a joint panel’s conclusions on the environmental assessment of Romaine.

“Today, we are launching the biggest construction project in Canada,” Quebec Premier Jean Charest said. “The Romaine complex is part of our vision for the development of hydroelectricity, a clean and renewable form of energy that is the pride of all Quebecers.”

Officials in attendance included Natural Resources and Wildlife Minister Claude Bechard, Native Affairs Minister Pierre Corbeil, chiefs of the Middle North Shore and Lower North Shore Innu communities, Hydro-Quebec Chief Executive Officer Thierry Vandal, and Havre-Saint-Pierre Mayor Pierre Cormier.

Romaine will feature four powerhouses, each with two turbine-generators: 270-MW Romaine 1; 640-MW Romaine 2; 395-MW Romaine 3; and 245-MW Romaine 4. It also will include new reservoirs and a 160-kilometer access road.

The anticipated start up schedule for the developments is: Romaine 2, 2014; Romaine 1, 2016; Romaine 3, 2017; and Romaine 4, 2020. Once complete in 2020, Romaine will generate 8 terawatt-hours annually.

A joint federal-province review panel approved construction of Romaine after an environmental assessment process. The government announced its decision on a panel report finding project construction and operation is not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects. It based its conclusion on implementation of mitigation measures, compensation, and programs proposed by project developer Hydro-Quebec, and those proposed by the panel.

Canadian Hydropower Association names new president

The Canadian Hydropower Association (CHA) named Jacob Irving, an association manager and government relations specialist, to be its new president.

CHA’s board of directors announced Irving’s appointment May 25 to succeed President Pierre Fortin, who left the association following ten years of service. Fortin served as special adviser to the board until his departure at the end of June. (See “Transitions,” Hydro Review, 2009 Industry Sourcebook.)

Irving has more than a decade of experience as an association manager and government relations specialist. He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Ottawa.

CHA Board Chairman Colin Clark said Irving has experience dealing with complex issues and with a wide range of stakeholders in the energy industry.

Most recently, Irving served as executive director of the Oil Sands Developers Group where he conducted municipal, provincial, federal government, aboriginal, and other stakeholder relations. Irving also has worked in government and in the petroleum energy sector in Canada and elsewhere.

CHA names five directors, fills officer seats
The CHA board named five new directors to fill vacancies created by resignations.

The board named Christopher O’Riley of BC Hydro and Benoit Pepin of Rio Tinto Alcan to complete two-year terms ending in 2009. The board named Greg Dixon of Kiewit, Chantal Guimont of Hydro-Quebec, and Gaetan Thibault of Tecsult to complete two-year terms ending in 2010.

Directors who resigned from the board are Pierre Cossette of Rio Tinto Alcan, Paul Dufresne of SNC-Lavalin, Zak Erzinclioglu of Hatch Energy, Gilles Favreau of Hydro-Quebec, and Mary Hemmingsen of BC Hydro.

The board also filled two offices, naming Francois Berthiaume of Alstom Canada to be secretary succeeding Hemmingsen, and Denys Turcotte of Voith Hydro to be treasurer succeeding Erzinclioglu.

CHA board officers now include Colin Clark of Brookfield Renewable Power in the second year of his term as chairman, Guimont and Ed Wojczynski of Manitoba Hydro as vice chairmen, Berthiaume as secretary, and Turcotte as treasurer.

Board members serving two-year terms ending at the end of 2009 are: John Evans of Fortis; James Haynes of Newfoundland & Labrador Hydro; O’Riley; Pepin; Keith Pomeroy of Andritz Hydro; Turcotte; and Wojczynski.

Members serving two-year terms ending at the end of 2010 are: Berthiaume; Clark; Dixon; Guimont; Victor Jmaeff of Columbia Power Corp.; Mike Martelli of Ontario Power Generation; and Thibault.

Nova Scotia examines expanding grid access to hydro

Nova Scotia commissioned a study of expanding the province’s transmission system and integrating it with the rest of the Atlantic Region, allowing greater exchanges of electricity, including large hydropower and other renewables.

Nova Scotia’s 2009 Energy Strategy noted the province essentially is an energy island. Its electricity grid only has a 350-MW connection with New Brunswick. By contrast, New Brunswick benefits from 1,400 MW of interconnection with Quebec and New England.

The province is funding the C$300,000 (US$248,000) study by engineering firm SNC-Lavalin to examine options to strengthen Nova Scotia’s grid. The study supports a commitment in the Energy Strategy to encourage a “greener” grid.

The new study, expected to be completed this year, builds on another study that found Nova Scotia’s ability to surpass 2013 renewables targets will depend greatly on grid connections inside and outside the province. Increased amounts of intermittent renewable energy sources such as wind require access to backup power to support them.

“Nova Scotia’s new targets for 2020 will mean at least 25 percent of all our electricity will come from renewable sources like wind, tidal, hydro, and biomass,” Energy Minister Barry Barnet said. “To get even more green power, we’ll need to strengthen the power grid connections that bind our province and region together.”

Researchers have identified Nova Scotia’s Bay of Fundy as potentially the best site for tidal power generation in North America. In May, Irish developer OpenHydro awarded a C$1.7 million (US$1.5 million) contract to Cherubini Metal Works of Nova Scotia to build a subsea base for a tidal energy demonstration project in the bay. (See “The Leading Edge,” page 122.)

The new transmission study also will look at different system operator alternatives, such as a single regional operator able to balance electricity demand among several partners. The government said other potential benefits of a stronger grid include: reducing dependence on foreign fuels; increasing system stability and reliability; and cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

In 2008, three energy companies, Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, Emera Inc., and Emera subsidiary Nova Scotia Power Inc., announced they would explore options for exporting power from the proposed 2,824-MW Lower Churchill hydroelectric project in Labrador to Canada’s Maritime provinces, including Nova Scotia, and to New England in the United States.

Canada sends 1,027-MW Bute Inlet to review panel

Canada’s environment minister announced the proposed Bute Inlet hydroelectric project, a group of 17 sites in British Columbia totaling 1,027 MW, will undergo an environmental assessment by a federal review panel.

Minister Jim Prentice acted in response to a request from the minister of fisheries and oceans, as provided by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. Only the environment minister may order an assessment by a review panel, a group of experts selected on the basis of their knowledge and expertise.

Review panels are appointed for projects with likely adverse environmental effects and when public concerns warrant. After its review, the panel submits its recommendations to the environment minister.

The federal terms of reference to establish the review panel and federal-province guidelines for preparing an environmental impact statement are being issued. The documents were finalized following consultations with First Nations and the public, the government said.

The federal assessment process will be coordinated with the province’s process, to minimize duplication and increase efficiency and effectiveness.

Plutonic Power Corp. is proposing to develop the Bute Inlet project in the vicinity of Bute Inlet. Major components include the 17 run-of-river hydro plants, a substation near the mouth of Southgate River, associated access roads and ancillary works, and transmission lines.

Ontario ups cost by C$615 million for Beck tunnel

Ontario Power Generation (OPG) increased the estimated cost of a new power tunnel for the 2,000-MW Sir Adam Beck hydroelectric complex at Niagara Falls by C$615 million (US$547 million) and delayed its estimated completion by 3.5 years.

The tunnel had been scheduled for completion by 2009, and then in June 2010. However, Strabag AG of Austria, the contractor digging the 10.4-kilometer tunnel, experienced slow progress due to “significant overbreak” caused by rock conditions in a Queenston shale formation.

In a May 22 quarterly report, OPG said the 2,000-ton tunnel-boring machine, dubbed “Big Becky,” advanced 3,794 meters by March 31, roughly a third of the length needed. In December 2008, the contractor initiated a realignment of the tunnel route to minimize excavation in the Queenston shale formation. The realignment is to reduce the tunnel length about 200 meters to 10.2 kilometers.

The tunnel had been scheduled for completion in 2010 at a cost of C$985 million (US$876 million). OPG said the tunnel now is expected to be complete in December 2013 at a cost of C$1.6 billion (US$1.42 billion).

OPG said it is renegotiating the design-build contract with the contractor with a revised target cost and schedule. The utility said there will continue to be some uncertainty about the excavation cost and schedule.

Once completed, the new tunnel beneath the city of Niagara Falls is to supply additional water from the Niagara River above Niagara Falls to the Beck complex, boosting annual generation of existing turbines by 1.6 terawatt-hours.

Boralex acquires 14.5-MW Ocean Falls in B.C.

Hydro operator Boralex Inc. announced it completed the acquisition of the 14.5-MW Ocean Falls hydroelectric project in northern British Columbia, the company’s first hydro plant in the province.

Boralex signed an agreement to acquire the project in June 2008, and closed the acquisition following the receipt of regulatory approvals and other consents.

The project is located in the small coastal community of Ocean Falls, in a remote area of B.C. about 300 miles north of Vancouver and 55 miles west of Bella Coola.

Boralex did not disclose the purchase price or the name of the seller. However, previous owners have included Central Coast Power Corp., an independent power producer that acquired the plant years ago from Ocean Falls Corp.

Although the power station has an installed capacity of 14.5 MW, only 2 MW currently is being generated and sold to BC Hydro. The installed capacity of the project potentially could be increased to more than 35 MW, it said.

Additionally, Boralex announced it acquired development rights for two other hydropower projects in the same region of B.C., representing an additional 10 MW. However, the company did not provide details.

Ontario Power, First Nation inaugurate 12.5-MW Lac Seul

Provincial utility Ontario Power Generation (OPG) and its First Nation partners commissioned the 12.5-MW Lac Seul hydroelectric project, calling it a model for the development of additional hydro plants in Ontario.

Ontario Deputy Premier George Smitherman joined dignitaries from Ontario Power Generation, Lac Seul First Nation, and the city of Ear Falls at the project’s official opening in April. Lac Seul, an extension of OPG’s 18.5-MW Ear Falls project, actually began operation in February on Ontario’s English River.

Smitherman, who also is Ontario’s minister of energy and infrastructure, called Lac Seul a trailblazer for a new cooperative model that the government hopes to build on through its proposed Green Energy Act.

OPG and Lac Seul First Nation signed an agreement in December 2008, formally creating the equity partnership under which the First Nation purchased 25 percent of Lac Seul. Future profits and risks are to be shared by both parties.

The partnership stemmed from a 2006 grievance settlement that addressed the effect of hydropower facilities that were built between 1930 and 1948 on traditional lands of the Lac Seul First Nation on the English River system.

B.C. grants certificate for 166-MW Upper Toba Valley

British Columbia officials granted an environmental assessment certificate for construction of the 166.3-MW Upper Toba Valley hydroelectric project to Upper Toba Hydro Inc., a subsidiary of Plutonic Power Corp.

Upper Toba Valley features three proposed run-of-river facilities about 150 kilometers north of Powell River, B.C.: 58.1-MW Upper Toba River, 66.2-MW Jimmie Creek, and 42-MW Dalgleish Creek.

Granting of the certificate by the B.C. Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources concludes a comprehensive environmental assessment process that involved consultation with government agencies, public stakeholders, and the Klahoose First Nation.

The environmental assessment includes 52 commitments Plutonic must implement throughout various stages of the C$330 million (US$267 million) project.

Upper Toba Valley is expected to leverage existing infrastructure and use the same transmission line as that for the 196-MW East Toba River Montrose Creek project. The 123-MW East Toba River and 73-MW Montrose Creek plants are under construction in the Toba Valley by Plutonic and its investment partner, GE Energy Financial Services.

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