The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency said Oct. 26 that it must decide whether a federal environmental assessment is required for the 330-MW Amisk Hydroelectric Project, to be located on the Peace River in northwestern Alberta.
To assist in making its decision, the agency is seeking comments from the public until Nov. 16 on the project and its potential effects on the environment. As a next step, the agency will post a decision on its website stating whether an environmental assessment is required. If one is required, the public will have three more opportunities to comment on the project.
AHP Development Corp. is proposing to construct and operate a 330-MW hydroelectric facility on the Peace River, approximately 15 kilometers upstream of Dunvegan, in northwestern Alberta. The Amisk Hydroelectric Project would generate approximately 1,875 gigawatt hours of electricity per year. The proposed project would involve the construction and operation of a powerhouse, spillway, headpond, fish passage, boat passage, a connecting transmission line and substation, as well as access roads and other construction related components.
The project is being developed by AHP Development on behalf of a number of partners, including Concord Green Energy. Concord Green Energy has invested in several renewable energy projects across Canada and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Concord Pacific, a Vancouver-based company.
Said a project description from the company: “The electricity market in Alberta is deregulated, and therefore left to market participants to add additional electrical generating capacity when supply and demand fundamentals suggest that additional generation capacity is warranted. In Alberta, the majority of electricity generated is currently from coal-fired generation, which contributed approximately 68% of the electricity supplied to the Alberta Interconnected Electric System (AIES) in 2014. In comparison, hydroelectric generation supplied approximately 3%.
“A significant amount of the coal-fired generation in Alberta is approaching retirement, with 3,760 MW mandated to be retired by 2029 at the latest under the federal government’s Reduction of Carbon Dioxide Emissions from Coal-Fired Generation of Electricity Regulations. In addition to the federal regulations, the province has rules regarding other emissions, including NOx and SOx, which were previously agreed to by the Clean Air Strategic Alliance (CASA). The requirements under CASA could accelerate the retirement of all coal-fired units, including 2,460 MW of coal-fired generation slated for retirement after 2029, based on federal regulations.”
The company added: “Sufficient generating capacity must also be added to the AIES to address increasing demand for electricity in Alberta. Over the last ten years, electricity demand in Alberta has grown by approximately 170 MW per year.”
Plan calls for two powerhouses with 11 turbines in each one
Project engineering is currently at the prefeasibility level. Major project components consist of an east and west powerhouse, a spillway, a substation, a transmission line, and access roads. Additional incidental components under consideration include fish and boat passage.
The east and west powerhouses and the spillway will act collectively as the main dam and have a combined length of approximately 370 meters. The main dam will be constructed across the Peace River, which is approximately 360 meters wide at the proposed facility location. The total height of the dam from the existing river bed will be approximately 24 meters and water levels immediately upstream from the dam are expected to increase by about 17 meters over average water levels.
The main dam structure will consist of reinforced concrete; various steel gates will control headpond levels and water passage. A cut-off wall will be constructed directly beneath the structures at the upstream side to reduce the uplift pressure and permeability of the foundation. Two additional gravity dams are anticipated between the powerhouse and the abutments on both sides of the river. These dams may be constructed of concrete, earthfill or roller compacted concrete (RCC).
Each powerhouse unit is close-coupled where the intake, turbine passageway, and draft tube form a single structural element. The current facility design is configured to have a total of 22 turbines (11 per powerhouse) with a maximum generating capacity of 15 MW each, for an overall facility capacity of 330 MW.
A substation containing switchgear and transformers will be located onsite to transform power generated by the facility to the transmission voltage of 240 kV. A new, approximately 25-kilometer-long transmission line will be required to connect the project to the Alberta Interconnected Electricity System located east of the site. The exact location of the transmission line has yet to be determined.
Construction of the proposed facility is scheduled to take place over approximately five years from 2018 to 2023. The project will operate as a run-of-river facility, which is a term used to describe hydroelectric facilities that do not have significant long-term water storage.