Environmental assessment begins for two run-of-river hydroelectric projects upstream of Fort McMurray

The Ashlu Creek run-of-river hydroelectric power plant northwest of Squamish, B.C., has a nameplate capacity of 49.9 megawatts. Image: Innergex Renewable Energy Inc.

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency has commenced federal environmental assessments for two run-of-river hydroelectric facilities on the Athabasca River upstream of Fort McMurray.

The proposed Pelican Renewable Generating Station and Sundog Renewable Generating Station projects located approximately 180 kilometres and 130 kilometres, respectively, upstream of Fort McMurray would each have a generating capacity of 135 megawatts (MW).

Each project would include a new 240 kilovolt transmission line, a spillway to increase the water level in the river, a powerhouse, in-river embankment structures, boat launches, access roads and ramp fishways.

Both projects are wholly owned subsidiaries of Longueuil, Quebec-based Innergex Renewable Energy Inc.

The company develops, owns and operates run-of-river hydroelectric facilities, wind farms and solar photovoltaic farms in Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia, and in the U.S. and France. Its portfolio includes 31 hydroelectric facilities, 22 wind farms and one solar farm with an aggregate net installed capacity of 1,124 MW (gross 1,845 MW).

In December, Innergex acquired Vancouver-based renewable energy company Alterra Power Corp. for $1.1 billion including debt. Alterra manages operations of eight power plants totalling 825 MW of hydro, wind, geothermal and solar generation capacity in Canada, the U.S. and Iceland and is constructing the 200 MW Flat Top wind project in central Texas, which is expected to be in operation by mid-2018.

The Environmental Assessment Agency invited the public and Indigenous groups to comment on which aspects of the environment may be affected by the run-of-river hydroelectric projects and what should be examined during the environmental assessments by February 9. It is the first of three opportunities for the public and Indigenous groups to comment on the environmental assessments of the projects.