The plant, operated by Rio Tinto Alcan, will be upgraded by the supply of a high-efficiency 225MW turbine, the group said. The upgrade is to be completed by the end of 2012.

Earlier this year, and previously when Alcan – prior to its acquisition – announced plans for the project, the budget was cited as US$130M.

Technical studies and preliminary engineering was budgeted then at approximately US$13M. The plan outlined in early 2007 by Alcan was for manufacturing work on the turbine to start in early 2009 for commissioning in 2013.

The Shipshaw plant is one of the six hydro power plants of the Saguenay-Lac-Sant-Jean complex in Quebec, and was commissioned in 1943. The other plants are Chute-a-Caron, Isle Maligne, Chute a la Savane, Chute du Diable and Chute des Passes. In total, the group has 2687MW of installed hydro power capacity in Quebec.

The upgrade project at Shipshaw is to make more efficient use of water supplies and will enable the company to suplply extra, backup peaking capacity to the provincial utility, Hydro-Quebec. The arrangement was agreed with the provincial government in late 2006.