The projects involve installing two 500MW turbines into existing bays at the Mica Generating Station, located at the Mica Dam on the Columbia River. The Mica Unit 5 project also includes a new capacitor station near Seymour Arm along the existing transmission lines from Mica Generating Station to the Nicola Substation.

The Mica Generating Station was commissioned in 1977, designed and fully licensed to accommodate six units, but construction of the fifth and sixth units was deferred until additional capacity was required. Four turbines currently operate with a generating capacity of 1805MW. With the installation of the fifth and sixth units, the generating capacity will increase to 2805MW.

The additional generating capacity, expected to be in-service by 2014 for Mica Unit 5 and 2015 for Mica Unit 6, will assist BC Hydro in meeting growing peak demand for electricity in the Canadian province.

Environment Minister Barry Penner and Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources Minister Blair Lekstrom made the decision to issue certificates for the project after considering a review led by BC’s Environmental Assessment Office (EAO).

The EAO assessment reports concluded the projects are not likely to have significant adverse effects, based on the mitigation measures and commitments included as conditions of the certificates.

The provincial environmental assessment certificates contain 95 commitments the proponent must implement throughout various stages of the projects. Key commitments include the following:

• Undertake a fish habitat monitoring program over a five-year period.
• Construct two raptor nesting platforms away from the construction areas.
• Fence the riparian buffer adjacent to construction areas to ensure encroachment does not occur.
• Undertake a survey to assess and relocate key rare plants used by First Nations for food, spiritual, cultural and medicinal use, prior to site clearing and preparation at the capacitor station site.

The projects did not trigger an environmental assessment under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. Before the projects proceed, the proponent will still need to obtain the necessary provincial licences, leases and other approvals.

The Secwepemc Nation, Okanagan Nation, Ktunaxa Nation and Lheidli-T’enneh Band were consulted on the assessments and the BC government is satisfied that the Crown’s duties to consult and accommodate First Nations interests have been discharged.

The capital cost of the projects is estimated to be between $900M and $1.3B. The projects are expected to provide 821 person-years of employment over the four-year construction period. Annual water rental payments to the provincial government will increase by an estimated $4.8M.

The annual grants in lieu of taxes that the proponent pays to the Columbia-Shuswap Regional District, the Regional District of Fraser-Fort George and the Village of Valemount are estimated to increase by $560,000.

In 2007, an environmental assessment certificate was granted to BC Hydro for the Revelstoke Unit 5 project. Work on the $280M project, which involves the addition of a 500MW turbine to the Revelstoke Generating Station, is nearing completion and is expected to be operational this fall.

More information on the environmental assessment can be found at