Construction began Jan. 11 on the 888-MW Eastmain 1A and Rupert Diversion hydroelectric project in northern Quebec.
Work began less than a month after Canada’s prime minister announced the government completed a review of a Federal Environmental Assessment Panel report and said the project could proceed. (HNN 12/19/06) By starting construction now, work begins before the ground freezes, avoiding months of weather-related construction delays, officials said.
The project includes 768-MW Eastmain 1A powerhouse at Eastmain 1 reservoir on the Eastmain River. A 120-MW Sarcelle powerhouse at the outlet of Opinaca reservoir also is planned, along with the partial diversion of flow from the Rupert River watershed into the Eastmain River watershed.
Various stages of the project will be brought into service between late 2009 and early 2012, Hydro-Quebec Chief Executive Officer Thierry Vandal said. Vandal was among officials on hand to launch construction of the project, which Quebec Premier Jean Charest said has an estimated value of more than C$5 billion (US$4.3 billion).
�As a result of this project and goals set out in our energy strategy, we will use our hydroelectric potential as a lever for economic and regional development, to create wealth and jobs,� Charest said. �We will also be able to take advantage of business opportunities on foreign markets.�
Other officials on hand for the announcement at Hydro-Quebec’s Montreal headquarters included: Pierre Corbeil, minister of Natural Resources and Wildlife; Claude Bechard, minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks; Geoffrey Kelley, minister responsible for native affairs; Matthew Mukash, grand chief of the Grand Council of the Crees; and Gerald Lemoyne, president of the James Bay Regional Council of Elected Officers.
Corbeil spoke of the project’s economic importance to Quebec and its regions. He noted the equivalent of 27,000 people would work on the project site over the next six years, with a peak workforce of more than 4,000. The project will generate economic spinoffs for the regions of about C$532 million (US$455 million), he added.
�In a world where resources are becoming scarce, hydroelectricity is increasingly valuable as a development tool,� Charest said. �It is also the principal response to the major issue of energy security and the future of energy in Quebec. Very few industrialized countries have access to such a plentiful, clean and renewable energy potential.�