Manitoba Crees partner in potential development of 695-MW Keeyask

Four Cree Nations have secured economic, social, and environmental benefits as well as an ownership stake in Manitoba Hydro’s proposed 695-MW Keeyask hydroelectric project, planned for the lower Nelson River 730 kilometers north of Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Officials of Manitoba Hydro and the four nations — Tataskweyak Cree Nation, War Lake First Nation, Fox Lake Cree Nation, and York Factory First Nation — signed the Joint Keeyask Development Agreement in late May. The pact outlines the partnership arrangement for the nations’ participation in development of the project.

However, the agreement does not ensure the project will be built. Before that could happen, Manitoba Hydro-Electric Board must approve construction and Manitoba and federal regulatory licenses and approvals must be obtained. Nevertheless, Manitoba Hydro anticipated the project could go into service as early as 2017.

“I’m extremely pleased that all four Keeyask Cree Nations have ratified this agreement and look forward to the project’s next steps,” Manitoba Hydro President Bob Brennan said.

Under the agreement Manitoba Hydro will provide administrative and management services for the project and will own at least 75 percent of the equity. The nations will collectively have the right to own up to 25 percent of the partnership.

Individual adverse effects agreements also were signed with the four nations outlining procedures for avoiding adverse hydro project effects and establishing mitigation programs for any unavoidable effects. Provision also is made for programs to promote culture and language, ensure environmental monitoring, increase Crees’ access to and use of the resource area, and provide ongoing training and jobs for Cree nations members.

Keeyask would be built at the foot of Gull Rapids and at the head of Stephens Lake, the reservoir of Manitoba Hydro’s 1,220-MW Kettle hydroelectric project. Keeyask is to utilize 18 meters of the 27 meters of head between the tailwater of Manitoba Hydro’s 224-MW Kelsey hydro project and Stephens Lake.

Manitoba Hydro and Wisconsin Public Service Corp. announced an agreement in 2008 in which the Canada utility will supply the U.S. utility 500 MW of hydropower backed by construction of Keeyask and the 1,250-MW Conawapa hydroelectric project. (HydroWorld 4/18/08)

For a report on Manitoba Hydro’s use of computational fluid dynamics modeling and physical modeling to design Keeyask, see Hydro Review, July 2008.

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