British Columbia gives environmental approval to 435-MW Waneta Expansion

The 435-MW Waneta Expansion project on the Pend d’Oreille River has cleared British Columbia’s environmental assessment process.

Environment Minister Barry Penner and Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources Minister Richard Neufeld granted an environmental assessment certificate for the C$400 million (US$403.8 million) project near Trail, B.C., following a review led by B.C.’s Environmental Assessment Office.

The Environment Ministry said Nov. 13 the certificate contains 51 major commitments that developer Waneta Expansion Power Corp. must implement. For example, Waneta Expansion Power must mitigate any potential incremental effects to endangered white sturgeon, provide measures to compensate for loss of shallow-water habitat, and share information and consult with First Nations.

In addition to the provincial environmental assessment, the Waneta Expansion project triggered a federal EA under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. B.C.’s Environmental Assessment Office and federal agencies cooperated on the process and prepared a joint report from which EAO concluded project effects would be acceptable, subject to implementation of mitigation measures and the sponsor’s commitments.

Additional provincial authorizations, and approvals by Canada’s Minister of the Environment and federal regulatory authorities, are needed before the project can proceed.

Waneta Expansion would include a new powerhouse with two turbine-generators to be in service by 2011 and a ten-kilometer, 230-kilovolt transmission line. The project would be built without a new dam, new reservoir, or enlargement of existing reservoirs. The project would reduce the amount of water spilled at the nearby 400-MW Waneta Dam, owned by Teck Cominco Metals Ltd., reducing total gas pressure downstream and improving Columbia River water quality to the benefit of aquatic species, the Environment Ministry said.

The Environment Ministry also said Waneta Expansion is consistent with the government’s goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while contributing to a plan to make British Columbia electricity self-sufficient by 2016. (HNN 10/10/07) It is expected to generate 700 gigawatt-hours annually.

Waneta Expansion Power Corp. is a company formed jointly by Columbia Power Corp. and Columbia Basin Trust to develop, construct, and operate the project. Development is being managed through a design-evaluate-build process used for two other projects, 185-MW Arrow Lakes, which began operation in 2002, and 120-MW Brilliant Expansion, which began operation in September. (HNN 9/17/07)

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