Crews Dismantle Historic Musquash Power Station

Saint John, NB - - Crews working for NB Power are dismantling the historic electric generating station at Musquash. The move comes seven years after the station was permanently shut down and months before a possible pitch by Saint John Energy to build a brand new hydro power station in the area.

The Musquash power station dates from 1922.

Musquash River dams

The building of the dams on the Musquash River happened in the 1920s. Submitted by Musquash Volunteer Fire Department

The watershed shaped to support it includes the two rivers, East Branch Musquash River and West Branch Musquash River. along with Sherwood Lake, Seven Mile Lake, Loch Alva, and a host of smaller lakes and streams sprawled across hundreds of square kilometres of wilderness to the west of Saint John.

NB Power spokesperson, Marie-Andree Bolduc said the crews are currently decommissioning infrastructure, including transformers, and re-routing transmission lines.

Several trucks and about a dozen workers were on the scene Wednesday.

In 1972, even while the generating station continued to operate, ownership of the NB Power infrastructure at Musquash was transferred to the Department of Energy and Mines.

The department still owns the generating station building and it will remain that way for the time being and won't be torn down said spokesperson Marc Belliveau.

$15 M spent on maintenance

According to DNR, $15 million has been spent since 2000 maintaining the four concrete and 27 earthen dams to Canadian Dam Association safety criteria.

In the meantime, there is renewed interest in the Musquash system for its potential to generate renewable hydro energy.

Scott Falls dam The crumbling Scott Falls dam was decommissioned in the 1970s, allowing much of its reservoir to drain. Connell Smith/CBC

According to Energy and Mines, the dam system holds 122 million cubic metres of water.

Last year, Saint John Energy hired consultants Hatch Ltd. to do a technical concept study to see if hydro power redevelopment would make economic sense. That door was opened by the province as part of its Locally Owned Renewable Energy Projects initiative.

NB to buy renewable energy

Under the program, NB Power would buy up to 80 megawatts of renewable energy from First Nations and "local entities" such as municipalities.

Bolduc confirmed the utility will weigh proposals received from First Nations groups this summer.

A call for expressions of interest from local entities will be issued in January of 2017.

Saint John Energy spokesperson Jessica DeLong says there is still interest in the proposal.

"It hasn't been ruled out," said DeLong. "We're waiting for the invitation for proposals in 2017 to look at it in more depth."

The energy initiative is being developed by NB Power to meet the provincial government's target to generate 40 per cent of electricity from renewable sources by 2020.


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