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Nelson and area set to win in Waneta expansion

Artist's rendering of the planned $900-million expansion of hydroelectric production on the Waneta Dam south of Trail — courtesy CBT.

By Timothy Schafer, The Nelson Daily

Nelson is guaranteed a share in the over 400 new jobs created in the Waneta Dam expansion on the Pend d’Oreille River, says the Columbia Basin Trust’s vice president of investments.

Johnny Strilaeff said a prescription is in place to ensure that 85 per cent of the new jobs will come from the local area.

He said there has been a 100-kilometre radius set as the geographic hiring circle from which hundreds of local jobs will be drawn from to fill that quota, one that includes Nelson, Rossland, Castlegar, Trail and the southern Slocan Valley but excludes the U.S.

There is a requirement built into the project agreements the CBT has signed to require that 85 per cent of that work force come from the local area.

“These aren’t folks that would come from other parts of the United States or Canada, these are individuals from our area, with families from our area, that will be working on this project,” he said.

The CBT is one of the partners in the $900-million project that will see the design and addition of a new generating plant to the concrete gravity dam south of Trail, making use of a current surplus of water to generate more electricity.

The project is now underway, Strilaeff said, with new hires already falling into place to fill the vacancies. He said over $162 million in wages over a four-and-a-half year period will be poured into the West Kootenay region as a result of the workforce the expansion will create.

An agreement has been finalized with SNC-Lavelin (Oct. 15) for the construction that began this week. The expansion is also projected to pump $178 million into the local economy through the purchase of goods and services.

In September an agreement in principle was reached between the Columbia Power Corporation and the Columbia Basin Trust with Fortis BC for the construction of a second powerhouse adjacent to Teck's Waneta Dam.

The deal will see BC Hydro buy all the 630 Gigawatt-hours of electricity and associated capacity, while FortisBC will buy the remaining 234 Megawatts of capacity from the 335 Megawatt plant.

Fortis owns 51 per cent of the proposed structure within the partnership, while Columbia Power and CBT own the remainder.

The province acquired the rights for expansion in 1994 from Teck Cominco, transferring them to Columbia Power in 1995. The rights for expansion are now held by the Waneta Expansion Power Corporation, a subsidiary of Columbia Power and Columbia Basin Trust.

editor@thenelsondaily.com


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