Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna, on Feb. 12 announced the referral of the environmental assessment of the proposed Amisk Hydroelectric Project in Alberta to an independent review panel.
The decision to refer the environmental assessment of the project to a review panel was made after considering its potential to cause significant adverse environmental effects and concerns expressed by the public and Indigenous groups. The minister has set timelines for the environmental assessment of the project as follows:
- The review panel is to be established (pre-panel phase) within 90 days (three months) from the date of the referral.
- The review panel would submit its report (panel phase) within 480 days (16 months) from the date of the establishment of the review panel.
- The federal minister’s decision statement is to be issued (post-panel phase) within 150 days (five months) from the date of the submission of the review panel’s report.
This timeline does not include the time the proponent takes to complete its work or gather information required for the environmental assessment.
AHP Development Corp. proposes to construct and operate a 330-MW hydroelectric facility on the Peace River, about 15 kilometers upstream of Dunvegan in northwestern Alberta. The Amisk Hydroelectric Project would generate around 1,875 gigawatt hours per year. The 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%.”
The company added: “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.”