Slave River Hydro Development, a joint venture of ATCO Power and TransCanada, is studying development of a large hydro project on the Slave River in Canada’s Alberta or the Northwest Territories.
Slave River Hydro is in the early stages of a preliminary assessment of whether it would be reasonable to develop the project. It said building a hydro station near Fort Smith in Alberta has been assessed several times and found to be technically feasible.
At one time, the project was envisioned as a single 1,800-MW hydro plant. However, the companies are looking at a number of configurations and have not mentioned a generating capacity.
The latest study was conducted in the 1980s. Since that time, the companies said, Canada’s need for clean, renewable, and reliable sources of energy has grown, as has the understanding that such a development must actively involve nearby communities. Slave River Hydro representatives began meeting with community members, leaders, and government officials in 2006.
In a brochure prepared for local communities, the developer said more work is needed before the companies are in a position to say where a hydro plant could be located. The developer added it will listen to, and take into consideration, community concerns and interests as well as consider environmental, traditional use, technical, and economic aspects before making a proposal.
Slave River Hydro said it is not interested in building a dam with a large reservoir. It is looking at several types of run-of-river concepts. While most schemes would require a structure on the river between Fort Smith and Fort Fitzgerald, the companies said, structures would divert water through generating equipment without long-term storage capability.
Should development of the project proceed, Slave River Hydro said it could take 12 years or more to complete community consultation, detailed feasibility studies, detailed engineering design, regulatory approvals, and construction.