NB Power will explore potential 100-MW hydropower facility in Canada

NB Power has begun environmental and geotechnical studies, and site testing to explore the potential for a new 100-MW generating station in Grand Falls beside its existing 66-MW Grand Falls hydropower project on Saint John River in New Brunswick, Canada, according to a company press release.

The cost of the proposed project is not immediately available and no timetable was given for the potential project’s completion. The company did say combined renewable generation capacity of the proposed and existing stations would be 166 MW and the project would require construction of various new structures, including a second tunnel.

NB Power is also contemplating becoming a minority investor in the proposed Atlantic Link submarine electricity transmission project.

In January, HydroWorld.com reported the Atlantic Link will be 100% owned by Emera, with NB Power holding an option to participate as minority investor. Stakeholder and permitting activities are under way, and the line will be in service by the end of 2022, according to Emera.

“We are pleased that NB Power is exploring all potential clean energy options,” said New Brunswick Premier, Brian Gallant. “A new generating station in Grand Falls would be positive for the New Brunswick economy. We will work with the people of the region as the project moves through the appropriate phases.”

The field studies, along with engagement with First Nations and local residents, would form the basis for an application for an environmental impact assessment and NB Power said it plans to submit the application later this year.

“This project is in the early stages and will require study, fieldwork, engineering and environmental approvals prior to going ahead. If feasible, it would be an important source of clean energy to our fleet and, we believe, would provide NB Power with even greater capability to provide generation for our customers inside the province and possibly in the New England market,” said NB Power President and Chief Executive Officer, Gaëtan Thomas. “We look forward to speaking with people in the region about the potential of the project in the months ahead.”

New Brunswick has a few small hydroelectric facilities and is considering developing additional plants. The province is not a large player in the hydro market, but it is working its way through green energy requirements it must begin implementing within the next five to 10 years, according to a 2016 analysis by Chris Ball, executive vice president of Corpfinance International Ltd.

“This means there will be opportunity for local independent power producers as the province and New Brunswick Power work towards increasing their capacity from renewable sources,” he said. “NB Power has identified a goal of generating 40% of in-province energy through renewables, including small hydro, up from 30%.”

After completing a US$2.3 million study begun in 2013, in December 2016 NB Power announced it would prolong the life of the 672-MW Mactaquac hydroelectric generating station on St. John River. The project is expected to cost $3.6 billion and will allow the plant to operate until 2068, at which time it will be 100 years old.

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Gregory B. Poindexter is an associate editor for HydroWorld.com . He also provides social media updates via HydroWorld.com's Facebook , Twitter and LinkedIn accounts.

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