BC Hydro has awarded 38 energy contracts to independent power producers throughout the Canadian province of British Columbia to help meet growing demands for electricity. The contracts - which include 29 hydro projects - will add more than 7000GWh per year to BC Hydro's system.

The awards represent long-term purchase agreements with an average term of 30 years. Ranging in size from under 1MW to approximately 200MW in capacity, the projects are located throughout the province and are expected to generate C$3.6B (US$3.2B) in private investment. Of the successful bidders, 23 are already developing projects for BC Hydro resulting from previous calls for power, and three include First Nations as developers or partners.

The 2006 Open Call Process was initiated in December 2005. Fifty-three separate projects bid into the process and were evaluated against publicly disclosed criteria including availability and reliability of the resource, proven technology and competitive pricing. As a result of a parallel tender process, BC Hydro also awarded a contract to the Brilliant Expansion Power Corporation, an affiliate of the Columbia Power Corporation.

Among the successful bidders is Canadian Hydro Developers, who was awarded one 20-year and three 40-year electricity purchase agreements for the supply of 44.55MW of hydro power, from the 20MW Bone Creek, 9.95MW Clemina Creek, 9.6MW Serpentine Creek and the 5MW English Creek projects

Located between Blue river and Valemount, in the Thompson river valley, Bone Creek, Clemina Creek and Serpentine Creek will generate an aggregate estimated 150,000MWh per year of green power – enough to power 21,000 households. The anticipated capital cost of these projects is C$90M (US$79M). Pending regulatory approvals and financing, construction is scheduled to commence in the summer of 2007, with completion expected by the fourth quarter of 2009.

The English Creek hydroelectric project is located near Revelstoke, close to Canadian Hydro’s Pingston and Akolkolex projects. With a capital cost of C$10M (US$8.8M), the project will generate an estimated 20,000MWh. The next steps involve securing regulatory approvals and financing, following which construction is scheduled to commence in the summer of 2007, with completions expected in 2009,

Another successful bidder was Plutonic Power Corporation, which was awarded contracts for two run-of-river schemes. The East Toba river and Montrose Creek project and the Rainy River scheme have a total design capacity of 211MW. Combined, the projects have an estimated capital cost of C$500M (US$440.5M) and will create over 300 full-time jobs over a three year construction period. This represents the largest private sector renewable energy investment in the history of British Columbia with the potential to generate approximately C$60-70M (US$53-62M) annually in revenue for Plutonic Power.

The 196MW East Toba River and Montrose Creek project is located at the headwaters of the Toba inlet north of Powell river and is expected to produce enough electricity to meet the annual energy needs of over 70,000 homes. The 15MW Rainy River project is located in Howe Sound and could produce enough electricity to power 5500 homes.

Highwater Power Corporation has also been awarded contracts for two hydroelectric projects in the Canadian province. The projects – Log Creek and Kookipi Creek – were each awarded 40-year power purchase contracts. The schemes have been under development and permitting since 2000 with expenditures to date in excess of C$2M (US$1.76M).

Once BC Hydro and successful bidders have signed the electricity purchase agreements, the agreements must be filed with the British Columbia Utilities Commission.