Canada nearing end of Keeyask hydro project review

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency is seeking final comment from the public on the Comprehensive Study Report for the 695-MW Keeyask Generation Project, a hydro facility to be located in Manitoba.

The Comprehensive Study Report includes the agency’s conclusions and recommendations regarding the implementation of mitigation measures and whether or not the project is likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects. Written comments must be sent by May 23. This is the final public comment period on the environmental assessment of this project.

The Minister of the Environment will take into consideration the Comprehensive Study Report, along with comments received from the public and Aboriginal groups, and eventually issue an environmental assessment decision statement.

The Keeyask project consists of a 695-MW hydroelectric station at Gull Rapids, located on the lower Nelson River, and associated transmission lines. The project site is approximately 180 kilometers northeast of Thompson, Manitoba.

The project, as constructed and operated by Keeyask Hydropower LP, would consist of a powerhouse complex, a spillway, dams, dykes, access roads, borrow sources, a work camp, and supporting infrastructure. A transmission line would be developed, owned, and operated by Manitoba Hydro to provide construction power to the project site. Manitoba Hydro would also build three new transmission lines to transmit electricity to an existing converter station for use in Manitoba and export markets.

The purpose of the project is to generate an average of 4400 gigawatt-hours per year of hydroelectricity at Gull Rapids and convey it to existing transmission facilities. The project company is a joint venture between four local Cree Nations – Tataskweyak Cree Nation, War Lake First Nation, Fox Lake Cree Nation and York Factory First Nation – and Manitoba Hydro.

Manitoba Hydro’s hydroelectric generating stations on the Nelson River produce approximately 75% of the utility’s electricity. The Keeyask project would increase Manitoba Hydro’s 5,406 MW total installed generating capacity by about 12%.

A project contact is: Keeyask Hydropower LP, 5900345 Manitoba Ltd., 360 Portage Avenue (18th Floor), P.O. Box 815, Winnipeg, MB R3C 0G8, Attention: Ken Adams, President, Email: kradams@hydro.mb.ca.

Bechtel-led team, BBE Hydro Constructors LP, has been awarded a contract worth about C$1.4bn by Manitoba Hydro to build the Keeyask station. The team, which is made up of Bechtel, Barnard Construction and EllisDon, expects to start construction on the project later this year, subject to regulatory approvals.

“We are very pleased to have Bechtel on board as part of the group for this contract,” said Bruce Barrett, vice president of Manitoba Hydro, in a March 25 statement. “They know the river, they know the area, and we expect their experience with past projects in Manitoba’s north will be a real benefit to the joint-venture group.”

“Keeyask is upstream from Limestone, the region’s largest generating station, which we completed ahead of schedule and under budget back in 1992,” said Brian Sedar, manager of Bechtel’s global water business. “We will draw from our experience and look forward to working closely with our partners and Manitoba Hydro to ensuring the success of this project.”

BBE Hydro Constructors will be responsible for building a seven-unit powerhouse, earthen structures, rock excavation, electrical and mechanical work, and the construction and removal of temporary cofferdams needed to manage the river flow during construction. The first power from the plant is expected as early as 2019 with final completion in 2020.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.