Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro has begun the environmental assessment process for the 2,824-MW Lower Churchill hydroelectric project by registering the project with province and federal environmental regulatory agencies.
NLH announced Dec. 1 it registered the project with the Newfoundland Department of Environment and Conservation as required by the province’s Environmental Protection Act, and filed a project description required by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.
Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams said the environmental assessment process is a critical component of the project’s schedule, ensuring due diligence and best practices are followed.
�Government and NLH are committed to a comprehensive and fully consultative environmental assessment process,� Williams said. �In support of that commitment, the project has been filed and registered with the appropriate regulatory agencies at the earliest opportunity. This action also indicates there is significant progress being made as the project has not reached this stage in its development since 1991.�
NLH President Ed Martin said development of the Lower Churchill has been the subject of environmental studies for several decades and, as such, there is a comprehensive body of environmental assessment work completed. During 2006, NLH commissioned environmental baseline studies to update that previous information and to compile more information on areas where limited study previously was conducted. (HNN 7/19/06)
The project would feature two power plants on mainland Labrador, 2,000-MW Gull Island and 824-MW Muskrat Falls. Gull Island would include a 99-meter-tall, 1,315-meter-long dam, a reservoir, and a powerhouse containing four, five, or six Francis turbine-generators. Muskrat Falls would feature a 32-meter-tall dam, a reservoir, and a powerhouse containing four units. The project also would include transmission lines interconnecting the two new generating stations with the 5,428-MW Churchill Falls project.
Construction of 2,000-MW Gull Island seen in 2009
Although a tremendous amount of work has been done to bring the project to its present point, Natural Resources Minister Kathy Dunderdale said much more remains to be completed to win project approval by 2009.
A nine-year construction period is scheduled to begin at Gull Island in 2009, with first power scheduled for mid-2014. Construction of Muskrat Falls is to be initiated about three years after Gull Island construction starts.
Martin noted NLH and the Innu Nation are working together to undertake consultation within Innu communities, to conduct negotiations toward an impacts and benefits agreement, and to involve the Innu in project environmental and technical work.
Earlier this year, NLH asked the Ontario Independent Electricity System Operator to approve transmission of power into Ontario from the project. Newfoundland also has applied for permission from neighboring utility Hydro-Quebec to use its transmission lines to carry project power to markets in Quebec, Ontario, the Maritime Provinces, and northeastern United States. Decisions on those requests are pending. (HNN 8/10/06)