UPDATE – Canada starts construction of 1,550-MW Romaine

Government, utility, and tribal officials launched construction May 13 of the 1,550-MW, four-powerhouse Romaine hydroelectric complex, on the North Shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence in Quebec.

Utility Hydro-Quebec began construction just days after the government of Canada announced it accepted a joint panel’s conclusions on the environmental assessment of Romaine. (HNN 5/11/09)

�Today, we are launching the biggest construction project in Canada,� Quebec Premier Jean Charest said. �The Romaine complex is part of our vision for the development of hydroelectricity, a clean and renewable form of energy that is the pride of all Quebecers.�

Officials in attendance included Natural Resources and Wildlife Minister Claude Bechard, Native Affairs Minister Pierre Corbeil, chiefs of the Middle North Shore and Lower North Shore Innu communities, Hydro-Quebec Chief Executive Officer Thierry Vandal, and Havre-Saint-Pierre Mayor Pierre Cormier.

Romaine will feature four powerhouses, each with two turbine-generators: 270-MW Romaine 1; 640-MW Romaine 2; 395-MW Romaine 3; and 245-MW Romaine 4. It also will include new reservoirs and a 160-kilometer access road. (HNN 1/21/09)

The anticipated start up schedule for the developments is: Romaine 2, 2014; Romaine 1, 2016; Romaine 3, 2017; and Romaine 4, 2020. Once complete in 2020, Romaine will generate 8 terawatt-hours annually.

At the height of construction, between 2012 and 2016, Romaine will create more than 2,000 jobs per year. It also will generate economic spinoffs in the form of contracts and purchases of construction-related goods and services valued at C$3.5 billion (US$3 billion) across Quebec, including C$1.3 billion (US$1.1 billion) for the province’s North Shore region.

Canada accepts report favoring Romaine

A joint federal-province review panel approved construction of Romaine after an environmental assessment process. The government announced its decision May 8 on a panel report finding project construction and operation is not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects. It based its conclusion on implementation of mitigation measures, compensation, and programs proposed by project developer Hydro-Quebec, and those proposed by the panel.

�The government of Canada supports the Joint Review Panel’s recommendations,� Fisheries and Oceans Canada Minister Gail Shea said. �We will work with the government of Quebec and Hydro-Quebec to address the potential environmental impacts through agreed upon mitigation measures.�

Federal and Quebec ministers mandated the review panel in September 2008 to assess the environmental effects of the C$6.5 billion (US$5.6 billion) project. (HNN 9/23/08) Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Transport Canada were lead federal departments and provided advice at panel hearings.

�A further step has been made toward the implementation of this project,� Transport and Infrastructure Minister John Baird said. �It demonstrates our government’s commitment to promoting significant economic development projects while protecting the environment.�

The review panel held public hearings and received 120 submissions during public consultation. It released a report of its findings in February. A summary of the report is available on the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency website, www.ceaa-acee.gc.ca, by entering the reference number 04-05-2613 under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency link: www.ceaa-acee.gc.ca/050/details-eng.cfm?CEAR_ID=2613.

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