Panel named to review Canada’s 1,550-MW Romaine complex

Canadian environmental officials have named a joint panel to review the 1,550-MW Romaine hydroelectric complex proposed for the Romaine River in Quebec.

Canada Environment Minister John Baird and Environmental Public Hearings Bureau President Pierre Renaud appointed Michel Germain, an Environmental Public Hearings Bureau commissioner, to be chairman of the three-member panel.

Other members are Louis Deriger, a part-time member of the public hearings bureau, and Jean-Guy Beaudoin, a retired federal employee who previously served as Quebec Region director general for Fisheries and Ocean Canada.

The panel is scheduled to begin work Oct. 27.

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency said naming the panel advances review of the project and its four powerhouses: 270-MW Romaine 1; 640-MW Romaine 2; 395-MW Romaine 3; and 245-MW Romaine 4. The project also includes new reservoirs and a 160-kilometer access road. Hydro-Quebec plans to build the project in the Lower North Shore Region, north of Havre-Saint-Pierre.

If construction begins in mid-2009, commissioning would begin in 2014. Upon completion in 2020, the project could generate 8 terawatt-hours annually.

An environmental impact statement filed by Hydro-Quebec in January found the project’s environmental effects can be mitigated. (HNN 1/31/08) Hydro-Quebec, which initiated the environmental review process in 2004, filed the EIS with Quebec’s Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks, and CEAA.

Construction of the C$6.5 billion (US$6.3 billion) project will proceed once government permits are obtained, the utility said. Hydro-Quebec said the C$6.5 billion figure is lower than previous estimates, but an estimate for transmission lines to Hydro-Quebec’s grid remains C$1.5 billion (US$1.45 billion).

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