Teck to sell third of 490-MW Waneta Dam to BC Hydro

Teck Resources Ltd. has agreed to sell a one-third stake in its 490-MW Waneta Dam in British Columbia to province-owned utility BC Hydro for C$825 million (US$714.4 million).

The companies said June 17, 2009, that the non-binding agreement is subject to approval by the British Columbia Utilities Commission as well as to consultations with area First Nations.

“Waneta Dam will provide BC Hydro and its ratepayers with a secure investment that has a long-term value — complementing BC Hydro’s existing heritage facilities with power that is clean, renewable, and reliable,” BC Hydro President Bob Elton said.

Teck, a Vancouver-based mining company, said it expects to record a C$625 million (US$541 million) pre-tax gain from the deal, and will use the money to help pay down its debt. It will continue to receive power from the hydro project on the Pend Oreille River for its Trail, B.C. smelter.

“Our Trail operation is a world-class integrated zinc/lead smelting and refining complex and this transaction will preserve its existing supply of low-cost power, one of Trail’s key competitive advantages,” Teck President Don Lindsay said.

BC Hydro said it would obtain about 1,000 gigawatt-hours per year as part of the province’s campaign to make itself energy self-sufficient by 2016. Waneta has produced an average of 2,800 GWh annually, with much of its excess generation exported to the United States.

SNC Lavalin named winning bidder for 435-MW Waneta Expansion

Waneta Expansion Power Corp. announced May 21 that it selected SNC Lavalin Inc. of Vancouver the preferred bidder for design-build construction of the 435-MW Waneta Expansion hydroelectric project, adjoining Waneta Dam on the Pend Oreille River.

Waneta Expansion Power, a venture of Columbia Power Corp. and Columbia Basin Trust, picked SNC Lavalin over two other bidders, Peter Kiewit Sons Co., Edmonton, Alberta, and Bilfinger Berger–North America Construction Joint Venture, a Vancouver-based joint venture of Bilfinger Berger (Canada) Inc. and North America Construction (1993) Ltd. (HydroWorld 9/29/08)

The developer said it would commence negotiations with SNC Lavalin over several months toward contract finalization.

“While the announcement of a preferred design-build proponent is a crucial step, planning to determine whether the project will ultimately move ahead is ongoing,” Waneta Expansion Power said. “Work with respect to project financing and commercial arrangements toward a power purchase agreement continue.”

The developer said, in accordance with its request for proposals, the viability of the project will be reassessed upon completion of the financing and commercial arrangements work and contract finalization with SNC Lavalin. If it decides to proceed, construction could begin by fall 2009, it said.

Waneta Expansion involves the design and construction of a second powerhouse at the existing Waneta Dam. Waneta Expansion would share the dam’s hydraulic head and make use of flows that otherwise would be spilled. The C$400 million (US$387 million) project would reduce the amount of water spilled at Waneta Dam, reducing total dissolved gas downstream and improving Columbia River water quality.

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