Hydro-Québec and the Société d’Énergie de la Baie James filed the environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Eastmain-1-A power house and Rupert diversion project in James Bay in December 2004, with the Provincial Administrator of the James Bay and Northern Québec Agreement and the federal Review Panel.

The project involves building the 768MW Eastmain-1-A power house near the Eastmain-1 power house, which is now under construction, as well as the addition of Sarcelle power house, with a total installed capacity of 120MW, at the outlet of Opinaca reservoir. In addition, a portion of the Rupert river is to be diverted into these three facilities, and then on to power three existing generating stations on the lower Grande Riviere – Robert-Bourassa, LG-2A and LG-1.

The project schedule provides for construction work to begin once the required government approvals, anticipated in spring 2006, are received. The Rupert diversion would become operational in late 2009, and the power houses would be commissioned in 2010 and 2011. In total, the project would increase the capacity of the Hydro-Québec production generating fleet by 888MW, and provide additional output of some 8.5TWh/yr. The unit cost of generation is estimated at US$0.036/kWh in 2011.

An ecological instream flow regime will be put in place to protect the fish communities and habitat in the Rupert river. Hydro-Québec designed eight hydraulic structures to preserve the river’s natural characteristics in the stretches it controls, as well as navigation, fishing, spawning grounds and aquatic grass beds.

In the coming months, the Review Committee (COMEX) and the federal Review Panel will proceed with written public consultations concerning the EIS’ compliance with the guidelines jointly issued by the federal and provincial authorities.