Lower Churchill Hydro project

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Ranking for 2012: 4

Industry Sector: Energy

Specific Sector: Hydroelectric

Range: $5 billion +

Project Value: $6,200,000,000

Government Funds Involved: N/A

Funding Source: Public-Private

Location: Generation in Central Labrador with transmission throughout Newfoundland and Labrador, Newfoundland and Labrador

Estimated End Date of Substantial Completion:


The existing 5,428 MW Churchill Falls Generating Station, which began producing power in 1971, harnesses about 65 per cent of the Churchill River’s potential generating capacity. The remaining 35 per cent is located at two sites on the lower Churchill River. The lower Churchill River system is comprised of two sites: Muskrat Falls with 824 MW of power, and Gull Island with 2250 MW. SNC-Lavalin’s role as engineering procurement and construction manager (EPCM) is for Phase 1. This includes the development of the Muskrat Falls Generating Facility and the Labrador-Island Transmission Line. Phase 2 of the project will be the development of Gull Island, the construction of which is expected to start several years after Muskrat Falls. Nalcor will transmit surplus power from the island to Nova Scotia Power, a subsidiary of Emera, across the Cabot Strait into Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. This project has been the subject of considerable debate this year, even becoming a major issue in the run up to the 2011 federal election due to the Conservative party’s promise of a loan guarantee for the project. Aside from that, the cost of the project, the potential to sell excess energy to other jurisdictions and potential environmental implications have all contributed to generate substantial opposition to the project. In August 2011, the Joint Review Panel of the Lower Churchill Project released its examination of Nalcor’s project analysis that examined the potential social, economic and environmental effects of the project. The panel found Nalcor’s analysis and justification for the project to be “inadequate.” 


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