A multibillion-dollar refurbishment of Mactaquac dam
is part of NB Power’s new 30-year strategic plan.
But utility president and CEO Gaetan Thomas said the
final decision on the future of the dam won’t be made until the end of this
“We have included in the plan that it would be
refurbished, but it doesn’t mean that the decision would be to refurbish it,”
he told The Daily Gleaner’s editorial board Tuesday.
“It will be dependent on other options.”
Thomas said there are two decision points for the dam.
“One for the EIA (environmental impact assessment)
that will be done around 2017, where there will be some engineering dollars and
some environmental research and the engagement of anybody along the river,” he
The process will take three to four years, said
“Then, by 2021, there will be a decision to be made,”
NB Power board chairman Ed Barrett said the utility
wants as many options as possible when it comes Mactaquac dam.
“The timeline is that round 2019, 2020, maybe 2021,
the refurbishment activity would have to begin,” he told the editorial board.
“Which means the engineering, pre-planning, all of
that sort of thing would commence about three years before that.”
The Mactaquac dam represents about one-sixth of NB power’s
total generating capacity of about 4,000 megawatts, and electricity generated
by hydro is the cheapest source of power.
But the dam suffers from a concrete-expansion problem
called alkali-aggregate reaction, which is limiting the operational life of the
concrete portions of the 45-year-old dam.
If the decision is made to refurbish the dam, it would
be up and running again around 2028, said Barrett.
“One of the things we will be looking at, obviously,
is cost,” he said.
If NB Power goes ahead with fixing the 672-megawatt
dam, it will be the utility’s biggest spending project since the Point Lepreau
nuclear generation station refurbishment and have major ramifications on NB
“Mactaquac, which will require spending as early as
2021, would cost close to $2 billion to decommission and significantly more to
refurbish,” said the strategic plan, released this week.
“If the practice of financing the company through debt
continues, renewals would see total utility debt increase substantially.”
NB Power has a debt of about $5 billion and the
strategic plan calls for that to be slashed to $4 billion over the next 10
“Those numbers are very preliminary,” said Barrett
about the Mactaquac costs.
He said the strategic plan is based on how the utility
sees the landscape today and is subject to change as new information is
accumulated each year.
The information includes the world price of various
fuels and other sources of hydroelectricity available from Quebec and Labrador,
“If the best decision is to lay it up, then we lay it
up,” said Barrett.
“So let’s say you preserve the headpond and the best
decision is you do something that allows you to make the decision 10 years
later, then you do that.”
The future of the Mactaquac dam is another reason why
NB Power must cut its debt by $1 billion over the next 10 years, said the board
Welcome to my Blog. I am the four term Councillor for beautiful and prosperous Ward 3, having first been elected in 2001, and again in 2004, 2008 and May 14, 2012.
Ward 3 is on the northside of Fredericton (the majestic Saint John River carves the city into equal north/south components). For those familair with our city, the approximate Ward 3 boundaries are: the Saint John River to the south, St. Mary's 1st Nation/Cliffe Street to the east, Brookside Drive to the west and the city limits/Killarney Lake to the north.
In my intial two terms, I was asked to co-chair the massive rewrite and public hearing process for Fredericton's new Municipal Plan. I also served two years as the Citys' Deputy Mayor; two years as Chair of the Development Services Committee, and as the inaugural Chair of the City of Fredericton Affordable Housing Committee.
In the third term, I had the honor of serving as Chair; Finance & Administration Committee for three years, Chair; City of Fredericton Pension Board for three year and continued as Chair of the Affordable Housing Committee
In this fourth term, I have been appointed Chair of Community Services, which encompasses recreation, liesure services, sports & facilites, parks and trees, and senior's issues. I am also serving as Chair of the labour/management contract Negotiaitons Committee, also as Chair of the City Employee's SuperAnnuation (pension) Board, and again, as Affordable Housing Chair
Please feel free to contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org; or at Fredericton City Hall, PO Box 130, Fredericton, NB, Canada, E3B 4Y7 (506) 460-2020