Environment Minister Terry Lake and Energy and Mines Minister Rich Coleman made the decision to grant the EA Certificate after considering the review led by BC's Environmental Assessment Office (EAO).
The proposed $217M project will be located on McLymont Creek, a non-fish bearing stream, approximately 100km northwest of Stewart and 140km southwest of Iskut. Once completed, the project will produce up to 70MW of run-of-river hydroelectric energy.
It will include 9.5km of new main access road to the main powerhouse, 6.2km of new access road from the powerhouse to the intake on McLymont Creek, a 10km, 69kV transmission line from the Forrest Kerr hydroelectric project switchyard to the project switchyard, as well as other components located on McLymont Creek.
BC Hydro awarded AltaGas Renewable Energy Inc. an Electricity Purchasing Agreement (EPA) in November 2011. Under the conditions of the EPA, the project's Commercial Operational Date is November 2015.
The EAO assessment report concluded that the project is not expected to result in any significant adverse effects, based on the mitigation measures and conditions of the EA Certificate.
The provincial EA Certificate contains project design features, mitigation measures and 44 conditions that form legally binding requirements that AltaGas Renewable Energy Inc. must adhere to throughout various stages of the project.
Key requirements include:
• The proponent must implement and maintain a minimum in-stream flow requirement of 0.5m3/sec in the McLymont Creek diversion reach.
• The proponent must develop, test and confirm operational criteria and procedures for flow ramping (controlling the water flow levels during project startup and shutdown). This will include the creation of an overall ramping protocol for the combined operations of the McLymont Creek, Volcano Creek, and Forrest Kerr hydroelectric projects, which are all owned by AltaGas Renewable Energy Inc.
• The proponent must implement comprehensive Environmental Management Plans that clearly outline proponent and contractor roles and responsibilities, monitoring requirements, reporting requirements and training components.
• The proponent must develop and implement a Mountain Goat Monitoring and Mitigation Plan, which specifically addresses construction work restrictions during the sensitive period for mountain goats (Nov 1 to June 14) to ensure that goats will not be negatively affected by construction activities.
• As part of the Environmental Management Plans, the proponent must describe and implement methods to monitor and control the establishment of invasive plant species.
• Submission of reports to EAO, at specified intervals (annually, prior to construction, operation, decommissioning, and once decommissioning is complete), indicating the status of compliance with the conditions of the EA Certificate.
Consistent with EAO's enhanced compliance and enforcement program, EAO will co-ordinate compliance management efforts to ensure that EAO is independently satisfied that certificate conditions are met.
The project required a federal environmental assessment under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. EAO, in collaboration with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, prepared an Assessment Report that met both the requirements under the BC Environmental Assessment Act and a screening-level review under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.
Local and provincial taxes generated over the 40-year lifespan of the project will be approximately $140M and provide two to four full-time employment positions once operational. The three-year construction period will generate $20Min provincial revenues and $40M in federal revenues and provide the equivalent of 100 to 120 full-time and part-time jobs.
Before the project can proceed, AltaGas Renewable Energy must still obtain the necessary provincial and federal licences, leases and other approvals.
AltaGas Renewable Energy is a wholly owned subsidiary of AltaGas Ltd.