Manitoba Hydro announces workforce cuts, rate increases
Manitoba Hydro announced in early February that it will eliminate more than 15% of its workforce while raising rates by at least 10% as the provincial utility’s efforts to cut expenditures continue.
Manitoba Hydro will shrink its 6,200-person workforce by 900 positions. President and Chief Executive Officer Kelvin Shepherd said the cuts equate to a savings up to about US$49.7 million. The company said it will institute a “voluntary departure plan” this spring to assist in the reduction process.
“These changes are a necessary first step towards achieving cost reductions within Manitoba Hydro and positioning us to execute on our strategic priorities that we have identified as cored to Hydro’s success,” Shepherd said.
The company is also making executive-level cuts, with three vice president positions already eliminated.
The moves come as Manitoba Hydro’s debt continues to mount. Sources report the company’s debt was about $10 million this past fall and could increase to more than $19 million within the next three years.
Emera moves forward on proposed Atlantic Link transmission line
Emera Inc. has initiated a solicitation process for energy to be bundled with transmission capacity on its proposed Atlantic Link submarine electricity transmission project. This 350-mile-long submarine high-voltage direct current (HVDC) electric transmission line is proposed to deliver 900 MW of clean energy, including hydropower, into the ISO-New England market.
The line will run from a new DC converter station to be constructed at Coleson Cove, New Brunswick, Canada, to a new converter station to be built at one of two proposed landing sites in Massachusetts, U.S.
The Atlantic Link will be 100% owned by Emera, with NB Power holding an option to participate as minority investor. Stakeholder and permitting activities are under way, and the line will be in service by the end of 2022, Emera says. Power Advisory LLC, an independent administrator, will receive proposals from qualified parties willing to offer energy until April 12, 2017.
Energy transmitted on the line will be bundled with transmission services provided by the Atlantic Link and will be advanced by Emera in response to a clean energy request for proposals for up to 9.45 TWh (or about 1,200 MW) of hydro and/or wind energy that is expected in early 2017 from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, according to a press release from Emera.
Ice blockage takes Yukon Energy’s 22-MW Aishihik hydro plant offline
Frazil ice blocking the trashrack at the 22-MW Aishihik hydro plant in Yukon caused a power outage and took the plant offline in late January, according to Canada’s CBC News.
The blockage was confirmed via use of an underwater camera. The ice prevented water from reaching the turbines, causing a reduction in generation and the resulting power outage. Replacement power came from the company’s 40-MW Whitehorse Rapids and 15-MW Mayo hydro facilities, along with diesel and LNG generation and Yukon Energy dispatched a crew with a steam truck to remove the ice.
Janet Patterson, Yukon Energy spokesperson, said this rare event has not happened in 25 years.
Aishihik has been generating electricity from the Yukon River since 1975. It originally was built with a capacity of 15 MW, and a third, 7-MW turbine-generator unit was added in 2011. Aishihik produces about 25% of the total electricity generated by Yukon Energy annually.
Astaldi, Muskrat Falls negotiate to complete civil works
Muskrat Falls Corp. and contractor Astaldi have negotiated terms to complete construction of the powerhouse, intake and spillway for the 824-MW Muskrat Falls hydropower plant.
The Astaldi Group has been blamed for delays that were cited in a lawsuit filed against the Muskrat Falls Corp. by Andritz Hydro Canada Inc. in May 2016, in which Andritz said Astaldi needed to complete concrete foundations and other work before it could begin its work on the project.
Astaldi’s new agreement with Muskrat Falls Corp. is worth about US$1.35 billion and establishes a new timeline for the plant’s completion. The contractor also said “all disputes and outstanding commercial items have been addressed,” although the terms are still subject to regulatory approval.
“The constructive dialogue built and developed with the client over the past years has allowed us to reach a full understanding over our contract’s objectives and timing,” Astaldi Chief Executive Officer Filippo Stinellis said. “The challenging work and its environment have made the negotiation process complex and we are satisfied for having reached this agreement.”
Muskrat Falls has sparked controversy throughout its development, although multiple studies have defended it as the least-cost option for future power generation. The plant will be located on the Churchill River in Labrador downstream from the existing Churchill Falls plant and is one component of the Lower Churchill complex.