Hydro-Québec has signed a pact with Motagnais of Betsiamites, a North Shore Indian band, securing the band’s agreement to the partial diversion of three rivers and the construction of a new generating station on another river. The projects are estimated to cost C$700M.

On the North Shore, the utility wants to divert the Portneuf, Sault-aux-Cochons and Manouane rivers as well as to construct a 440MW power station on the Toulnustouc river at a cost of C$600M. The Montagnais of Betsiamites have agreed to invest 17.5% of the C$82M cost of diverting the three rivers in return for an equivalent percentage of the additional power that will be generated from the Bersimis I and II stations on the Betsiamites river west of Baie-Comeau. The band will sell their power to Hydro-Québec at a price of 3cents/kWh. It is estimated the band will earn C$100M over the 50-year duration of the contract, which is renewable for an additional 49 years.

The native group did not take a similar ownership stake in the much larger Toulnustouc generating project and instead will receive C$9.5M over 14 years for economic development. The band is also guaranteed a say over an C$11M fund for environmental remediation and will be allocated 12.5% of the jobs on the project.

Hydro-Québec is currently negotiating with five municipalities and two other Indian communities in the region on similar partnership agreements for North Shore projects. The projects will flood a total of about 20km2 of land with the vast majority of that consisting of the enlargement of an existing reservoir behind the Toulnustouc power station. The developments are subject to government environmental approval. Together the three projects will add about 2.8TWh to Hydro-Québec’s existing supply of 160TWh.