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Mactaquac Project update: Environmental, social, scientific and public engagement reports now available

2016-08-26


FREDERICTON – The decision-making process about the future of Mactaquac Generating Station has reached another milestone with the completion of environmental, social, scientific and public engagement reports on the project.

In keeping with NB Power’s commitment to transparency and accountability on the project, all of the documents are available online for public viewing.

The Mactaquac Generating Station is expected to reach the end of its service life by 2030 because of expansion problems with its concrete structures. NB Power has identified three possible end-of-life options for the station, including building a new generating station, removing all structures to allow the river to return to a natural flow, or leaving the dam in place but without power generation. In addition, NB Power is considering making substantive repairs by modifying maintenance programs to prolong the life of the station to approximately 2068.

Final reports include the following:

The Comparative Environmental Review (CER) report is the result of three years of study and public input on potential environmental impacts of the future options under consideration by NB Power. The CER is focused on potential impacts on people, the economy and the environment. The goal is to predict the impacts and find ways to reduce or minimize them if possible.

The CER process is modelled on the Province of New Brunswick’s Environmental Impact Assessment process, which evaluates large projects on behalf of the public. In many cases, the EIA process is the only opportunity to study the potential impacts of a large project.

For the Mactaquac Project, NB Power took the exceptional step of conducting this EIA-type exercise to bring formality, discipline, and transparency to the comparison of the impacts of the future options. It also ensures both NB Power and its customers can be thoroughly informed of the potential impacts and to prepare for a potential EIA when the preferred option is selected later this year.

The Social Impact Comparative Review report is the result of research and public input into the potential impacts of the future options on people who live and work near the Mactaquac Generating Station. The report considers issues including headpond/river access for recreational users, community emergency services, infrastructure and housing, local business interests, community identity, property values among others.

The What Was Said report details the results of public and stakeholder input received during NB Power’s public engagement program, held between September 2015 and May 2016. More than 10,000 individuals share their views and opinions on the project through open house sessions, community meetings, stakeholder workshops, an online survey, formal submissions and sessions by request.

Scientific studies by the Canadian Rivers Institute are also now available. In 2014, NB Power invested $2.3 million in an independent research project with CRI, a collaborative research network based at the University of New Brunswick, to evaluate key environmental challenges related to Mactaquac’s future including river health, fish passage and flow management. That investment was boosted in 2015 by a $2.8 million grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), the largest Collaborative Research and Development Grant ever awarded in Atlantic Canada, bringing the project total to $5.3 million.

In addition, NB Power is working closely with First Nations through a separate aboriginal consultation process that will ensure their rights and interests are taken into account during the selection of a preferred option. This process has been underway since 2013 and will address issues and opportunities arising from any potential project at the generating station.

“I want to thank all the experts, scientists, members of the public and First Nations who are helping to inform and facilitate our decision-making process about the future of Mactaquac Generating Station. We fully expect this conversation to continue,” said NB Power president and CEO Gaëtan Thomas. “It’s clear that our customers have strong and informed opinions, as well as many shared values, which will be considered carefully as we move toward a decision later this year.”

In late 2016, NB Power will recommend a future path for the station. Following that, the project will be subject to the appropriate regulatory processes.

For more information on the project and the full reports, visit Mactaquac.ca.

Media Contact: Deborah Nobes, Communications, NB Power, 506-458-4838.