DESCRIBING IT as some of the best news Terrace has heard in years, Mayor Dave Pernarowski said this afternoon’s approval by the provincial government of the Northwest Transmission Line sets the stage for an economic revival.
“This power line is going to transform the region,” said Pernarowski of the 287kV line which will stretch north of Terrace to Bob Quinn on Hwy37 north.
Its estimated cost is $404 million with a construction completion date set for late 2013.
Pernarowski said he wants construction to start as soon as possible this spring.
The line still requires federal environmental approval but Pernarowski says he’s confident that will come quickly.
“I don’t see any reason why approval won’t follow quickly,” he said.
Pernarowski, who is also co-chair of a lobby group of local and regional governments pushing for construction of the line, said he and other group members will travel to Ottawa if need be to emphasize the need for fast approval.
Skeena NDP MLA Robin Austin said the announcement was a “positive step forward.”
He also hoped First Nations groups will agree with the provincial determination that they had been adequately consulted.
Austin said the provincial government must also ensure it includes construction money for the line so that a spring start is feasible.
The line will provide a way for AltaGas to transfer power from its $700 million Forrest Kerr run of river hydro electric project to the provincial grid.
AltaGas is paying $180 million toward the line’s construction costs with the federal government adding $130 million.
That leaves $94 million to be covered by the province but that amount is expected to be reduced as other companies strike deals to connect to the line.
The line is expected to lead to the development of at least two mines which need a reliable and cost effective power supply.
Imperial Metals needs to build a power line south from its Red Chris copper property to the end of the transmission line at Bob Quinn.
The mine has received environmental approvals and is now lining up permits and financing. Imperial also needs environmental clearance for its power line.
NovaGold, which today said a pre-feasibility study is to be ready this year for its Galore Creek property that it jointly owns with Teck, is expected to be the second mine.
Galore Creek is west of Bob Quinn and NovaGold and Teck will need to build their own power line to hook up with the Northwest Transmission Line.
Taken together, the Northwest Transmission Line, Red Chris, Forrest Kerr and NovaGold represent more than $2 billion in spending.