Canada minister refers 1,027-MW Bute Inlet to review panel

Canada’s environment minister announced the proposed Bute Inlet hydroelectric project, a group of 17 sites in British Columbia totaling 1,027 MW, will undergo an environmental assessment by a federal review panel.

Minister Jim Prentice acted May 14, 2009, in response to a request from the minister of fisheries and oceans, as provided by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. Only the environment minister may order an assessment by a review panel, a group of experts selected on the basis of their knowledge and expertise.

Review panels are appointed for projects with likely adverse environmental effects and when public concerns warrant. After its review, the panel submits its recommendations to the environment minister.

The federal terms of reference to establish the review panel and federal-province guidelines for preparing an environmental impact statement are being issued. The documents were finalized following consultations with First Nations and the public, the government said. (HydroWorld 2/3/09)

The panel’s terms of reference provide information on the scope of the environmental assessment, on the process for conducting the review, and details on timelines associated with key steps of the panel review. The federal-province guidelines provide direction to the developer and identify information that will be required in the environmental statement needed for the project to advance.

The federal assessment process will be coordinated with the province’s process, to minimize duplication and increase efficiency and effectiveness.

Plutonic Power Corp. is proposing to develop the Bute Inlet project in the vicinity of Bute Inlet. Major components include the 17 run-of-river hydro plants, a substation near the mouth of Southgate River, associated access roads and ancillary works, and transmission lines.

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