Plutonic Power, GE submit bids for hydroelectric projects

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA - Plutonic Power Corporation joined with GE Energy Financial Services, a unit of GE, today in submitting two bids for hydroelectric power projects costing more than $4 billion, which would be Canada's largest single private sector hydroelectric generation investment.

The submissions into BC Hydro's 2008 Clean Power Call outline the development of approximately 1,200 megawatts of clean, run-of-river hydroelectric capacity (enough to power 330,000 homes) in the Toba and Bute Inlets along British Columbia's southwest coast, where GE and Plutonic Power Corporation are already building a 196-megawatt hydroelectric project.

Today's bid submissions are in response to BC Hydro's Request for Proposals issued in June for 5,000 gigawatt hours (GWh) per year of seasonal and hourly firm energy to help make British Columbia electricity self-sufficient by 2016, and meet demand using 90 percent clean domestic generation sources. BC Hydro says it intends to award energy purchase agreements to winning bidders from April-June 2009.

With capital costs estimated at more than $4 billion, GE Energy Financial Services intends to fund or arrange equity contributions to the projects, subject to such conditions as satisfactory due diligence and formal documentation, as well as approvals by investment committees, boards of directors and regulators. GE Energy Financial Services also has the right to fund or arrange the debt required for the projects.

"Today's submission is the culmination of four years of planning, engineering, consultation, permitting and licensing," said Plutonic Power Corporation Vice-Chair and CEO, Donald McInnes. "We are grateful to our First Nations partners, and the cities of Powell River and Campbell River for supporting our bids, reflecting broad public endorsement. These projects will provide long-term economic and social benefits to these First Nations and communities in addition to providing BC Hydro with clean electricity."

These projects will expand GE Energy Financial Services' US $4 billion portfolio of renewable energy investments worldwide.

"GE has an excellent history of supporting companies and projects in British Columbia, including the Olympics," said Mark Tonner, Managing Director of Canada at GE Energy Financial Services. "Our joint bids with Plutonic show our support of green energy generation in British Columbia, potential progress toward our goal of investing US $6 billion in renewable energy worldwide by the end of 2010, and reinforcement of GE's ecomagination, a program to help our customers meet their environmental goals while expanding our own portfolio of cleaner energy projects."

Bids were submitted today for the following two projects:

The Upper Toba Valley Hydroelectric Project, with a generation capacity of approximately 166 megawatts, consists of three generation facilities that will connect to the BC Hydro grid through a 230- kilovolt line already under construction for the Plutonic Power and GE Energy Financial Services East Toba River and Montrose Creek run-of-river project.

The Upper Toba Valley Hydroelectric Project is expected to be permitted by the end of the second quarter in 2009. The project will be able to take advantage of infrastructure already in place in the Toba Valley.

The Bute Inlet Project, with generation capacity of approximately 1,027 megawatts, consists of 17 facility sites in three areas: the Homathko, Southgate and Orford Rivers. The Bute Projects have been registered with both provincial and federal permitting authorities. A formal application for an environmental assessment certificate is expected to be submitted in late 2009.

The first project Plutonic is working on with GE, the 196-megawatt, $660 million East Toba River and Montrose Creek run-of-river hydroelectric project, is fully financed, on-budget and on-schedule to reach commercial operation by mid-2010. The electricity generated from this project is contracted to BC Hydro under a 35-year sales contract.

About 250 workers are currently putting up power lines and building generating stations, and clearing and blasting is under way for the powerhouses as well as excavation for trenches for buried penstocks. Both intake sites, where the water will enter the penstocks, have been reached by road, and work to complete the East Toba diversion prior to winter is under way.

The turbine generators are being manufactured in Austria, penstocks in China and the United States, and the bifurcation units in Quebec.


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