A flurry of agreements released May 28 cements the Northwest Transmission Line as the driving force for northwestern economic growth, says a key economic development player. The agreements revolve around the development of the Forrest Kerr run-of-river power project by Coast Mountain Hydro, a subsidiary of Calgary-based AltaGas.
AltaGas on May 28 signed a benefits deal with the Tahltan Central Council, announced it had a 60-year deal to sell Forrest Kerr power to BC Hydro and is chipping in $180 million toward the $404 million cost of the provincial government’s Northwest Transmission Line.
Janine North of the Northern Development Initiative Trust, which promotes economic development, and co-chair of a lobby group which pushed for construction of the Northwest Transmission Line, says Forrest Kerr reflects how business should be done.
“We’re thrilled that AltaGas has announced its project,” she said. “We’re pleased to have an anchor customer for the power line.” And its deal with the Tahltan demonstrates that industrial development can occur while respecting aboriginal interests, North added. “That’s the sort of collaborative relationship I expect we’ll see more on,” she said.
Provincial energy minister Blair Lekstrom said the Forrest Kerr package taken together with the Northwest Transmission Line should help the northwest economy recover from an extended slump.
“We committed to the [transmission] line without a private sector partner but said we would find one,” he said. The $180 million upfront payment by AltaGas to gain access to the provincial transmission line is good news for BC Hydro’s customers as it reduces the amount they’ll have to pay for the line’s $404 million price tag, the minister said.
“And I think there’s further potential as well,” Lekstrom added. “We already have the federal commitment of $130 million for the line.”
Lekstrom said the 60-year, inflation-protected Forrest Kerr sales deal between BC Hydro and AltaGas is 20 years longer than similar deals struck by the crown corporation. That partly reflects the preference for a longer deal to make the $700 million construction cost worthwhile, he said.
Published: June 01, 2010 11:00 PM
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