Canada Environment Minister John Baird has ordered a comprehensive study as the most appropriate type of environmental assessment for the 464-MW Lower Mattagami hydroelectric redevelopment project in Ontario.
Although most projects of federal interest are assessed through a screening process, a comprehensive study can be required for large projects that could cause significant adverse environmental effects or generate public concerns.
Ontario Power Generation proposes to add 464 MW to its Lower Mattagami River hydro system by building a 264-MW powerhouse and upgrading three other projects, all on the Mattagami River northeast of Kapuskasing. (HNN 8/1/06)
Baird said he based his decision on a report and recommendations by Fisheries and Oceans Canada. The report contained information on project scope, factors to be considered in the EA and the scope of those factors, public comments, the potential of the project to cause adverse environmental effects, and the ability of the comprehensive study to address project issues.
Based on the environment minister’s decision, announced in September, Fisheries and Oceans Canada will perform the study. It will submit a study report to the environment minister, at which time the public will be invited to comment on findings and recommendations. Following the comment period, the minister will make a final decision.
Ontario Power Generation proposes to add 252 MW by expanding the 136-MW Little Long project to 204 MW, 140-MW Harmon to 240 MW, and 156-MW Kipling to 240 MW with the addition of a third turbine-generator at each powerhouse. It also would redevelop Smoky Falls to accommodate the new 264-MW generating station, to be built near an existing 52-MW plant. The original Smoky Falls plant then would be decommissioned.
Ontario Power Generation said redevelopment would provide increased overall generating capacity and promote more efficient operation and use of water throughout the complex. Smoky Falls is a baseload station and operates effectively 24 hours per day at a total flow capacity of 188 cubic meters per second. The Little Long, Harmon, and Kipling plants are peaking stations and operate about five hours each day.
The proposed design would let Ontario Power Generation use the same flow rates at each of the generating stations. The complex would operate on a weekly schedule versus the current daily schedule. Because all the generating stations would have similar discharge capacities, they would be operated in step, with each station discharging the same quantity of water and passing it to the next station downstream.