TransCanada eyes C$5 billion Alberta hydro project

CALGARY - - TransCanada Corp (TRP.TO: Quote) is mulling development of a C$5 billion ($4.9 billion) hydroelectric project on the Slave River in the remote reaches of northern Alberta, Alex Pourbaix, president of the power and pipeline company's energy division, said on Thursday.

The company said it is in the early stages of planning for a run-of-the river hydro project on the Slave, an undeveloped river that carries more that two-thirds of Alberta's water flow north to Great Slave Lake in the Northwest Territories.

The project, which would not include a large reservoir behind a dam, would likely generate 1,200 to 1,300 megawatts of electricity, and could be operating in a decade.

"We are in what I would call an early-stage feasibility exercise," Pourbaix said. "We've done a fair bit of work on the technical aspects and are now starting to engage with stakeholders."

TransCanada's partner on the project is a unit of Atco Ltd. (ACOx.TO: Quote), which owns generating plants in Canada, Britain and Australia.

Power from the project would be sold in Alberta as well as in export markets, Pourbaix said. However it would require significant additions to the province's electricity transmission network, which already lacks capacity to send power from the province's northern reaches to the more developed southern areas.

The project "will require significant transmission upgrades and, likely, better interconnections of the Alberta power market with markets to the south of us," Pourbaix said.

TransCanada is the country's biggest pipeline company. It also owns electricity operations in Canada and the United States. As well, the company is a partner in Bruce Power LP, which operates the Bruce nuclear facility in Ontario, which supplies a fifth of the province's power.


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