BC Hydro wins environmental OK for 500-MW addition to Revelstoke

British Columbia granted environmental approval June 5 to BC Hydro’s plan to add a 500-MW turbine-generator to 1,980-MW Revelstoke Dam on the Columbia River.

British Columbia Environment Minister Barry Penner and Energy, Mines, and Petroleum Resources Minister Richard Neufeld made the decision to grant the Revelstoke Unit 5 project an environmental assessment certificate. The officials considered details of a review led by B.C.’s Environmental Assessment Office.

The certificate includes 76 commitments BC Hydro must implement throughout various phases of the program to add what will be the project’s fifth unit. For example, BC Hydro agreed to prepare environmental management plans for project construction, and to mitigate incremental effects to endangered white sturgeon. It also agreed to maintain communications and reporting with First Nations on environmental performance and compliance.

The Environmental Assessment Office concluded the project’s effects would be within acceptable levels, subject to adherence to design components and implementation of mitigation measures and commitments. The Environment Ministry added the project is consistent with the province’s goal of becoming self-sufficient in electricity by 2016, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Additional approvals required

In addition to the B.C. environmental certificate, BC Hydro needs other province and federal authorizations and approvals before the project can proceed. The proposed project triggered screening under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act due to an authorization required by Fisheries and Oceans Canada. B.C.’s Environmental Assessment Office and federal agency worked together on the process and prepared a joint screening/assessment report for decision makers.

BC Hydro filed an application for a certificate of public convenience and necessity with the B.C. Utilities Commission in April. (HNN 4/20/07) That application is pending. A certificate of public convenience and necessity would establish Revelstoke Unit 5 is the preferred option to meet customer demand.

Estimated capital costs for Unit 5 range from C$280 million to C$350 million (US$264 million to US$330 million). The target in-service date is October 2010, while allowing for an in-service date of October 2011.

Revelstoke Dam power plant began operating in 1984 near the city of Revelstoke. It originally was de�signed as a six-unit facility, with installation of Unit 5 and a sixth unit being deferred until additional capacity was needed.

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