Canadian agency opens up enviro review of 330-MW Amisk hydro project

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency said Dec. 16 that it has commenced a federal environmental assessment for the proposed Amisk Hydroelectric Project, located on the Peace River, approximately 15 kilometers upstream of Dunvegan in northwestern Alberta.

The agency is inviting the public to comment by Jan. 25 on which aspects of the environment may be affected by this project and what should be examined during the environmental assessment. Following this comment period, the agency will finalize and issue the EIS guidelines to the proponent. This is the second of four opportunities for the public to comment on this project.

AHP Development Corp. is proposing to construct and operate this 330-MW hydroelectric facility. 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.”

Major project components consist of an east and west powerhouse, a spillway, a substation, a transmission line, and access roads. 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.

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 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.

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.

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.