CASTLEGAR, B.C. — Canada’s largest private-sector power company plans to build a $900-million hydroelectric plant in southern British Columbia with two provincial agencies as partners.
Fortis Inc. of St. John’s, N.L., (TSX:FTS) will own 51 per cent of the hydro plant, known as the Waneta Expansion, which will supply BC Hydro and sell surplus electricity to an unregulated market.
The project near Trail, B.C., is being led by Fortis in partnership with the government-owned Columbia Power Corporation and Columbia Basin Trust.
B.C.’s minister for energy, mines and petroleum, Bill Bennett, says the project will bring about 400 jobs and $200 million in wages and benefits to the region.
“This agreement is the result of a tremendous amount of hard work and co-operation from all the parties involved,” Bennett said in a statement Thursday.
Other companies interested in the project will have until Sept. 13 to submit alternatives to the Fortis plan, through BC Bid. (www.bcbid.gov.bc.ca).
The Waneta Expansion project has been discussed for several years.
Montreal-based engineering and construction services giant SNC Lavalin (TSX:SNC) was chosen as the preferred candidate to be the project’s contractor in May 2009.
At the time, Waneta Expansion Power Corp. — a subsidiary of Columbia Power Corporation and Columbia Basin Trust — said construction could begin as early as last fall
But the project was put on hold in November, when the provincial agencies announced the power plant plan had to be restructured.
They said Thursday that SNC Lavalin continues to be the preferred construction contractor.
Fortis, which owns Newfoundland Power and a other utilities in Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta and P.E.I., said that each of the expansion project’s partners will be responsible for funding their portion of the cost.
“Fortis is excited about this opportunity to grow our non-regulated hydroelectric generation business in British Columbia, where we have well-established regulated utility operations at FortisBC and Terasen Gas,” Fortis president and CEO Stan Marshall said in a statement.
“British Columbia and the (U.S.) Pacific Northwest region provide good potential to pursue additional hydroelectric generation assets that complement the utility operations of Fortis in western Canada and deliver value to our customers and shareholders.”