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NB Power recommends life achievement option for Mactaquac Generating Station

2016-12-20


Fredericton, N.B. – NB Power is recommending a project to maintain the Mactaquac Generating Station to its intended lifespan of approximately 2068.

This recommendation follows a fact-based decision process involving NB Power’s Board of Directors, balancing environmental, social, technical and cost considerations. It also follows extensive and ongoing consultation with First Nations.

In the coming months, NB Power will seek appropriate environmental approvals with the Province of New Brunswick and follow application and review processes for financial approvals to be defined by the Energy and Utilities Board (EUB).

“We believe we have made a sound decision about Mactaquac that makes good business sense, meets the present and future needs of New Brunswick’s changing power grid and reflects the values of New Brunswickers,” said Ed Barrett, Chair of NB Power’s Board of Directors. “As a public utility, we clearly understand that any course of action regarding Mactaquac has deep and lasting consequences.  Maintaining the station will allow NB Power future flexibility while we meet our financial and environmental goals and continue to provide safe, reliable energy at low and stable rates.”

The project includes extending the life of existing concrete facilities through a modified approach to maintenance and replacing equipment over time.  This project will not require a new public river crossing.

This approach meets all safety requirements, has the lowest cost estimate when compared to other options under consideration, and allows NB Power to take into account changes in costs, technology, electricity demand and customer priorities in choosing a path forward as the potential end of life for the station approaches again in 2068. The estimated cost of the life achievement option is between $2.9 to $3.6 Billion.

NB Power will follow a competitive process for work related to the project, as required by provincial legislation.

NB Power will continue to work with the Canadian Rivers Institute and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to achieve targeted fish passage goals on the Saint John River as informed by science, ongoing studies, input from First Nations and stakeholders and future regulatory processes. Funding has been allocated in the project budget of up to approximately $100 Million to ensure installation of adequate multi-species fish passage.

Since the 1980s, concrete portions of the hydro station have been affected by a chemical reaction called alkali-aggregate reaction. The reaction causes the concrete to swell and crack and has required substantial annual maintenance and repairs.

In anticipation of an early station retirement, NB Power began consulting in 2013 with engineers, scientists, stakeholders, the public and First Nations on potential future options.

These options include building a new station, removing all structures except for the earthen dam and spillway, or removing all structures and restoring the Saint John River to a natural flow.

In the spring of 2016, a fourth option to maintain the station became viable after detailed studies of the AAR-affected concrete revealed better structural integrity than previously understood.  Following extensive analysis and comparisons, this approach is now NB Power’s preferred option.

“We deeply appreciate the generosity of our customers, First Nations and others who took the time to share their stories, insights and concerns about the future of Mactaquac in writing and in person. Your feedback has been an essential part of the decision process and has informed our recommendation,” said Gaëtan Thomas, President and CEO of NB Power. “Maintaining the station reflects our customers’ strong agreement on the importance of the environment while respecting their caution on costs. This option reflects the consistent support from thousands of New Brunswickers for investments in renewable electricity here at home, but not at any cost. Maintaining the station will ensure that hydro-electricity remains a critical part of our grid, which is essential to meeting our renewable energy targets today and in the future.”

NB Power’s expert research and public engagement resulted in a number of detailed reports containing information that will form the foundation of NB Power’s regulatory applications.

For more information on the project, key documents and detailed backgrounders on topics of interest, consult our project website.

 

MEDIA CONTACT: Deborah Nobes, NB Power Communications, dnobes@nbpower.com, 506-458-4838.