11 April 2011

Province settles expropriation with Enel, Sun Life and others

Compensating a group of companies involved in the Star Lake affected by the Abitibi expropriation will wind up costing the taxpayers of this province more than the original project cost to build a decade ago.

Natural resources minister Shawn Skinner announced on Monday that provincial government will pay $32.8 million to Enel while Nalcor will assume responsibility for a $40 million loan from Sun Life and other companies.

That’s $72.8 million for a project that originally cost $51 million to build in 1998 according to Enel’s website:

The Star Lake Hydroelectric Project is an 18 MW remotely operated hydroelectric facility with a 173 million cubic meter capacity storage reservoir. The project provides electricity to Newfoundland’s integrated grid, which is sold to Newfoundland & Labrador Hydro.

Construction of Star Lake began in May 1997 and was completed in October 1998 for a total cost of $51 million (CAN).

From the earliest stages of the project, environmental considerations were considered in its development and have been instrumental in the technical design. The facility was conceived using environmentally friendly materials and equipment such as biodegradable hydraulic oil for its intake gate system and an oil-free hydrostatic bearing for the turbine unit. An underground penstock was also designed and implemented in order to avoid obstructing migration routes of the Buchans Plateau caribou herd.

An artificial brook trout incubation and rearing facility is also onsite. It is designed to produce up to 100,000 fingerlings (young fish). These fingerlings are intended for annual introduction to Star Lake to ensure that the lake's brook trout population is maintained.

Skinner is quoted in the news release as saying that this is a “a fair settlement and the most appropriate action for the province to take.”

The provincial government is still in talks with Fortis on compensation for that company on another project affected by the 2008 expropriation bill.

Nalcor has already assumed responsibility for a $59 million loan related to Fortis’ former hydro interests.

- srbp -