Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Hydro Power Storage Project to Be Built near Retired Open Pit Coal Mine

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Hydro Power Storage Project to Be Built near Retired Open Pit Coal Mine

Article excerpt

Hydro power storage project wins approval

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CALGARY - A hydro power storage project proposed at the site of one of the worst coal mining environmental disasters in Canada has been given regulatory approval.

Turning Point Generation, developer of the Canyon Creek Pumped Hydro Energy Storage Project, says the recent ruling by the Alberta Utilities Commission means it can now seek financial support for what it says would be the first large-scale energy storage project in the province.

Canyon Creek is to be located next to the decommissioned Obed Mountain open pit thermal coal mine about 60 kilometres east of Jasper National Park, said Kipp Horton, CEO of Calgary-based WindRiver Power Corp., the parent company of Turning Point.

"We're repurposing the site for what we believe is a modern grid type of product," he said, pointing out the project will be able to utilize mine roads and a high-voltage power connection to reduce new environmental disturbances.

In November 2013, one of the then-suspended mine's tailings dams failed, releasing an estimated 670 million litres of slurry into two creeks that fed into the Athabasca River, thus sending fine rock, clay and unrecovered coal particles as far as Lake Athabasca, 500 kilometres away.

The mine owner was handed nearly $4.5 million in federal and provincial penalties in 2017.

The Canyon Creek facility will consist of two new 40-hectare water storage ponds, connected by a five-kilometre, two-to-three-metre-wide pipeline, Horton said.

At night, when power demand is low, water will be pumped from the lower to the upper pond, gaining 500 metres of elevation. When demand is high, the water will flow the other way, turning a turbine generator producing 75 megawatts, enough to power about 50,000 homes, for up to 37 hours at a time.

"Typically, the price of power goes down during the night because we're all sleeping, industry isn't using it and, in Alberta, in fact, the wind blows stronger at night," said Horton. …

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