Canadian News

Issue 3 and Volume 31.

BC Hydro board OKs John Hart replacement project

BC Hydro has taken the next step toward a C$1.35 billion (US$1.36 billion) overhaul of its 126-MW John Hart Generating Station.

The corporation says it will proceed with an environmental and regulatory review application for the John Hart upgrade and renovation project, which seeks to address safety, reliability and environmental issues surrounding the 65-year-old facility.

The company’s goal is to complete the regulatory processes and award the construction contract by summer 2013, with the first replacement generating unit in-service by 2017 and completion scheduled for 2018.

BC Hydro says the hydropower facility, on Vancouver Island near Campbell River, has seen declining output due to six turbine-generator units that are in “poor condition.” The company also says the facility is susceptible to seismic activity and that a partial or full station outage would have a significant impact on river flows and wildlife.

The project calls for the replacement of three existing 1.8-km-long penstocks with a 2.1-km tunnel through bedrock and construction of a replacement hydroelectric generating station beside the existing powerhouse, a replacement water intake at the John Hart Spillway Dam, and a new water bypass facility.

Included in the new generating station will be three 46-MW turbine-generator units, which will replace the six current 21-MW units. BC Hydro’s next steps include filing a federal Environmental Assessment Report with Fisheries and Oceans Canada later this month, along with a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity application with the British Columbia Utilities Commission later this spring.

BC Hydro has moved closer to starting a major overhaul at the 126-MW John Hart Generating Station in British Columbia, where output has declined due to the “poor condition” of the turbine-generator units.

OSEA supports Ontario’s new feed-in tariff rules and pricing

The Ontario Sustainable Energy Association gave high marks to the Ontario government’s feed-in tariff program update, calling it a positive and natural progression of the FIT program and a victory for communities, First Nations and renewable energy developers.

“The government’s re-engagement and willingness to improve the program is very important and timely. This renewed commitment will further strengthen Ontario’s leadership role in renewable energy,” says Kristopher Stevens, OSEA’s executive director.

A two-year review was ordered to find ways to make the FIT program sustainable. Its goal, according to the Ontario government, is to emphasize the development of renewable energy sources, including hydropower. The government hopes to use the FIT program to reduce prices for developing renewable energy projects and phase out coal-fired electricity generation by 2014, as well as create more jobs in the renewable energy field.

OSEA believes the enhanced role of municipalities, combined with the changes that ease community and First Nations participation, will fortify Ontario’s growing green economy. “OSEA is excited that more Ontario communities, including aboriginal ones, are now better positioned to develop community-based renewable energy projects,” says Harry French, director of OSEA’s Community Power Services Group.

The changes also provide an opportunity to help commercial developers better understand and deploy engagement and partnership best practices that enhance community benefits, OSEA says. “Shifting the contracting and the Renewable Energy Approvals process oversight to the Cabinet Office responds to a previous weakness,” Stevens says.

Environmental groups challenge Lower Churchill project

The 3,074-MW Lower Churchill hydroelectric project came under fire from environmental groups just days after receiving approval from the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency.

According to a press release issued by the Sierra Club Canada, “the government of Canada’s endorsement of the Lower Churchill Generation Project is unlawful and will be challenged in the federal court.”

The Sierra Club – in conjunction with Grand Riverkeeper Labrador Inc. – has filed a judicial review application with the federal court on grounds that the initial environmental assessment is incomplete. The groups are represented by Ecojustice.

The review application seeks to block the government from issuing any permits or financial guarantees to project owner Nalcor Energy until the assessment is completed “in full.” It also asks the court to overturn the federal government’s endorsement of the project. “We want the panel to finish the job it was tasked to do, and until that happens, we believe the federal government does not have the legal right to support the project with permits or funding,” says Lara Tessaro, Ecojustice staff lawyer.

The environmental assessment process for the Lower Churchill Hydroelectric Generation Project was initiated in 2006. The governments of Newfoundland and Labrador and Canada approved the environmental assessment for the Lower Churchill project. Nalcor Energy is currently reviewing the governments’ responses.

“The environmental assessment process is an important planning tool, and we’ll incorporate the conditions required as part of the project’s release into our planning and design work as we move forward,” says Ed Martin, Nalcor president and chief executive officer.

The Lower Churchill project is comprised of the 824-MW Muskrat Falls (first phase) and 2,250-MW Gull Island (second phase) facilities. Project proponents say power from Muskrat Falls can be a long-term, stable source of clean, renewable energy for provincial electricity consumers, and development of Gull Island will support continued industrial development in the province.

Gilkes opens new North American office in Canada

Gilbert Gilkes & Gordon Ltd. recently announced the opening of its new North American Office in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The England-based small hydropower manufacturing company says this office will support all existing and future hydroelectric projects for North America.

“We hope the proximity of the office to a very active hydropower area will give our customers better service from a sales, technical and support point of view,” says Managing Director Nick Pike.

The company manufactures and supplies hydro turbines and ancillary equipment with capacity of 50 kW to 20 MW. It supplied turbines for the 7.5-MW Youngs Creek project that began operating in Washington State in October 2011.

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Canadian News

Issue 3 and Volume 30.

Upgrade to Ruskin facility included in BC Hydro plan

BC Hydro is planning a C$800 million (US$822.5 million) upgrade of the 80-year-old Ruskin Dam and powerhouse as part of its C$6 billion (US$6.2 billion), three-year regeneration plan to meet growing power needs.

The Canadian utility will submit one of its largest ever applications to the BC Utilities Commission (BCUC) for approval of the upgrade work at the dam, which has not received significant modifications since the last generator was added in the 1950s, a press release states.

Ruskin Dam and powerhouse were built in 1930 and are located in Mission, B.C. After 80 years of service, this work is required to upgrade the facility to modern safety and seismic criteria and replace the powerhouse equipment, which is in poor condition, BC Hydro reported.

Construction is scheduled from 2012 to 2018 and includes replacing the spillway gates and dam bridge; rehabilitating the powerhouse structure; and installing new turbines, generators, and ancillary equipment.

The upgrade work is part of BC Hydro’s three-year capital investment strategy to renew and expand the province’s electricity system. These investments are required to improve and replace aging facilities that were built primarily between 1950 and 1980, ranging from upgrading dams and generating stations, to building entirely new transmission lines linking existing and new substations and more.

Innergex to acquire hydro developer Cloudworks Energy

Innergex Renewable Energy Inc. announced it will buy privately-owned Cloudworks Energy Inc. for C$185 million (US$187 million), expanding its hydroelectric assets in British Columbia.

The acquisition will help diversify the assets of Innergex, a small Canadian renewable energy producer, which operates run-of-river hydro projects and wind farms mostly in its home province of Quebec.

Cloudworks, which has 30 employees, owns a 50.01 percent stake in six run-of-river hydro facilities with a combined gross installed capacity of 150 MW, news agencies reported.

President and Chief Executive Michel Letellier said in a statement the deal will increase Innergex’s installed power capacity to 401 MW.

Veresen acquires small projects in British Columbia

Veresen Inc. has completed a $114.9 million deal with Enmax Corp to acquire a portfolio of small hydro facilities and development projects in British Columbia, Canada.

The assets acquired from Enmax include 99 percent interest in the 11-MW Furry Creek hydro facility, 100 percent interest in two 11-MW Clowhom hydro facilities, and 50 percent interest in the 15-MW Culliton Creek project.

Veresen, formerly Fort Chicago Energy Partners LP, converted from a limited partnership to a corporation under the new name on January 1, 2011.

AbitibiBowater sells stake in Ontario hydro assets

AbitibiBowater has signed an agreement for the sale of its 75 percent stake in hydroelectric generating assets in Ontario, the company reported.

The forest products firm will get about C$300 million (US$303.6 million) for its indirect interest in ACH Limited Partnership.

The buyer is a consortium formed by a major Canadian institutional investor and a private Canadian renewable energy company, AbitibiBowater said.

As part of the transaction, the Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec has agreed to sell its 25 percent interest in ACH LP.

The agreement values the hydro assets, which have a combined capacity of 131 MW, at about $640 million.

Hydro-Quebec, Innu reach Romaine hydro project deal

An Innu community has reached a C$125 million agreement-in-principle with Quebec to allow provincial utility Hydro-Quebec to run transmission lines through its ancestral territory.

The tentative deal is over Hydro-Quebec’s 1,550-MW Romaine project on the Romaine River.

The Innu of Uashat Mani-Utenam, on Quebec’s north shore, signed an agreement in principle with the utility that will see them receive $80 million in cash over the next 50 years, local media reported.

The remaining $45 million will take the form of contracts to be allocated to the community of 4,000 during the construction of power lines to transmit electricity from the four dams to be built on the Romaine River near Sept-Iles, about 600 kilometers northeast of Quebec City.

In exchange, the Innu agreed to drop legal proceedings against the utility that could have blocked the construction of power lines for the project – considered one of the largest infrastructure works under way in the country.

The $6.5 billion Romaine project will have a capacity of 1,550 MW of power, beginning in 2020.

The deal only compensates the Innu of Uashat for the Romaine project. The band still has pending legal proceedings of nearly $2 billion against Hydro-Quebec and the Quebec government for other hydroelectric developments.

The parties hoped to ink a final agreement in March. The final deal will be subject to the approval of the Innu community by referendum in April.

Hydro-Quebec has already reached agreements with four other Innu communities affected by the Romaine project.

Voith Hydro to equip Decew Falls hydro project

Voith Hydro Canada won a contract to supply equipment for the Decew Falls 1 hydropower project.

Operator Ontario Power Generation is overhauling the plant that has been supplying electricity to the grid for more than a century. Voith will supply the turbine runner, shaft and wicket gates of Unit 8. The overhaul will be complete in early 2012.

Voith also had been the original equipment supplier for Decew Falls 1. Early in the 20th century, the owner, Hamilton Cataract Power Company, ordered four turbine units in Heidenheim for the plant located in direct vicinity to the Niagara falls.

With delivery from 1904 to 1912, these units were among the first ones Voith supplied to North America.

Decew Falls was inducted into the Hydro Hall of Fame in 1998. The Hydro Hall of Fame, established in 1995, recognizes hydro achievement throughout North America.

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