The provincial government of Alberta in Canada has approved a number of new licenses for IPP developments, including licences for new small hydro projects. Last year the province had several power outages due to peak demands exceeding the power supply. Current average summer peak demand in Alberta is estimated at about 7700MW: installed capacity is approximately 8000MW, with an additional 400 MW available from British Columbia.

Among the newly approved licences is a 32MW plant at the Oldman river dam, northeast of Pincher Creek, in southwestern Alberta. The development includes a 7km power transmission line. The developer of the project is ATCO Energen Ltd (formerly Alberta Power). The power plant will utilise the flow releases from the reservoir to the Oldman river, via the river outlet.

ATCO won the bid to develop the site over three competing bids from other IPPs. The Oldman river dam, a C$500M (US$339M), 75m high earthfill dam and multi-purpose reservoir was completed by the Alberta government in 1991, to improve water supply and provide flood protection to communities in the Oldman river basin.

Canadian Hydro Developers Ltd (CHD), of Calgary, Alberta, has also received the green light for a 12.5MW hydro plant to be installed at the Taylor’s Coulee Chute, on the Jensen-Ridge Irrigation Canal, near Magrath in southern Alberta. The plant, which is to be constructed later this year, proposes to use the 100ft head available at the site to develop hydro power. The power plant will operate only during the irrigation season, from May to October, and will be similar to the 3MW plant already operated by CHD at the Belly River Chute.

CHD, through its subsidiary Glacier Power, is also proposing to build a 6m high dam and a 40MW run-of-river plant at Dunvegan on the Peace river in northwestern Alberta. The concrete weir would include the powerhouse, a fishway and a navigation lock. The estimated cost of the project is C$80M.

CHD has also received approval from the British Columbia provincial government to build a 25MW run-of-river hydro plant on Pingston Creek, a tributary of the Columbia river, near Revelstoke. CHD will undertake the project with Great Lakes Power.

CHD currently owns and operates eight small hydro plants in British Columbia, Alberta, and Ontario.