The Romaine Hydroelectric Complex - Premier Charest launches largest construction project in Canada


    HAVRE-SAINT-PIERRE, QC, May 13 /CNW Telbec/ - The Premier of Québec, Jean
Charest, accompanied by the Minister of Natural Resources and Wildlife, Claude
Béchard, the Minister of Native Affairs, Pierre Corbeil, the mayor of
Havre-Saint-Pierre and prefect of the Minganie RCM, Pierre Cormier, the chiefs
of the Innu communities of the Moyenne-Côte-Nord and Basse-Côte-Nord, and
Hydro-Québec president and CEO, Thierry Vandal, officially launched
construction on the hydroelectric complex on the Romaine in Havre-Saint-Pierre
today.
    "Today, we are launching the biggest construction project in Canada. The
Romaine complex is part of our vision for the development of hydroelectricity,
a clean and renewable form of energy that is the pride of all Quebecers. This
new complex will serve as a powerful lever for Québec's economic development
by helping create jobs and wealth, as well as contributing to the fight
against climate change," the premier declared.
    Minister Claude Béchard stressed the importance of the project for Québec
and its regions. "Construction will extend through 2020, providing jobs to
workers along the Côte-Nord beginning this summer. At the height of
construction, between 2012 and 2016, the project will create over 2,000 jobs
per year. It will also generate significant economic spinoffs in the form of
contracts and purchases of construction-related goods and services valued at
some $3.5 billion across Québec, including around $1.3 billion for the
Côte-Nord."
    For his part, Mr. Vandal explained that "the construction of four
hydroelectric plants on the Romaine is a very good project. Construction will
end in 2020, with the first power slated to come on stream in 2014. Once the
project is completed, Québec will have increased its installed capacity by
1550 MW and have access to an additional 8 TWh of electricty per year."
    "Premier Charest, you have given us a wonderful opportunity to prove to
ourselves that the Innu Nation is capable of great things, that there is room
for everyone in the respect of who we are, and that together we are true
partners in the development of the region and Québec as a whole. We will
respond to your invitation with energy, intelligence, and determination,"
added Chief François Bellefleur of the Innu community of Nutashkuan.
    "The Romaine project is a major challenge that we will rise to meet,"
declared Mayor Pierre Cormier of Havre-Saint-Pierre. We have been waiting for
this for nearly 50 years. With the consensus achieved around this initiative,
there is no question that we are delighted with the project."
    The project has the support of local communities, and partnership
agreements have been signed with the Minganie RCM and the four Innu
communities in the affected area. The agreements, which were drafted from a
sustainable development perspective, are intended to secure long term benefits
for the host region by fostering the economic, cultural, and social
development of the host communities. In addition, they will encourage the
establishment of businesses and maximize job creation through various special
training programs. The agreements provide for community participation in
project construction and environmental monitoring.
    A joint federal-provincial review panel approved construction of the
project after a rigorous and transparent environmental assessment process.
    "The project meets three objectives of the Québec Energy
Strategy-enhancing energy security, making greater use of energy as a lever
for economic development, and giving a greater role to local and regional
communities and the First Nations. The project shows that the interests of
economy, the environment, and social acceptability can be harmoniously
reconciled," concluded the premier.BACKGROUNDER

                      THE ROMAINE HYDROELECTRIC COMPLEX
                           The Project at a Glance

    LA ROMAINE HYDROELECTRIC COMPLEX

    The 1550 MW La Romaine hydroelectric complex will be situated on Rivière
Romaine north of Havre-Saint-Pierre, in the Côte-Nord region. Construction of
the four reservoir-powered plants and a permanent 150 km long road will cost
an estimated $6.5 billion. Average annual production at the complex is
anticipated to be 8 TWh, enough to power more than 450,000 households or the
cities of Québec, Saguenay, and Longueuil combined.
    The project-part of the Government of Québec's Energy Strategy-will create
new business opportunities abroad once completed and eventually help meet
Québec's energy needs. Project construction will run from 2009 to 2020.

    ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL SPINOFFS

    Construction of the Romaine complex will generate substantial economic
spinoffs. Contracts and the purchase of related goods and services should
generate $3.5 billion for Québec as a whole and $1.3 billion in the Côte-Nord
region alone. Total employment on the site will average nearly 1,000 workers
per year. At the height of construction between 2012 and 2016, some 2,000
workers will be on the job.

    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION MEASURES

    The Romaine complex has undergone an extensive environmental impact study
of the physical, biological, and human aspects of the project. Various
attenuation and compensatory measures will be implemented to minimize the
project's environmental footprint and enable local residents to continue their
pursuits in the area. The project will also be subject to a massive
environmental monitoring program until 2040. The cost of studies, attenuation
measures, and environmental monitoring is estimated at over $200 million.

    A few examples of planned measures:

    - $20 million Atlantic salmon development program over 20 years
    - Protection of downriver in-stream flows to preserve fish habitats
    - Creation of spawning areas and stocking of lakes and tributaries
    - Telemetric monitoring of forest caribou
    - Recovery of merchantable timber in reservoirs and at dam sites
    - Replanting and reforestation of work vicinity
    - Development of wetlands and borrow pits, deforestation of sections of
      reservoir shoreline, and creation of bays to facilitate riparian
      habitat
    - Installation of launching ramps at each reservoir
    - Construction of a snowmobile bridge downstream from the Romaine 1
      facility

    PARTNERSHIPS WITH LOCAL COMMUNITIES

    The project is being carried out in partnership with local and regional
communities. Partnership agreements have been concluded with the Regional
County Municipality (RCM) of Minganie and with the four Innu communities:
Ekuanitshit, Nutashquan, Unamen Shipu, and Pakua Shipi.
    The agreement with the RCM of Minganie is to support projects of an
economic, recreational, social, or cultural nature within the municipality's
limits. The agreements with the Innu communities are to finance projects of an
economic, community, or cultural nature as well as to foster traditional
practices and encourage vocational training. These communities also took part
in the local impact studies and will be closely involved in project
construction and environmental monitoring.

    MAIN STEPS IN THE APPROVAL PROCESS

    - Release of environmental impact study: winter 2008
    - Public hearings on the federal and provincial environmental assessment
      procedures: fall 2008
    - Release of the joint review board's report: February 2009
    - Issuance of approvals and start of construction work: May 2009

    STARTUP SCHEDULE

    - Anticipated startup schedule
           - Romaine-2: 2014
           - Romaine-1: 2016
           - Romaine-3: 2017
           - Romaine-4: 2020-%SU: RNT,TER
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For further information: Hugo D'Amours, Press Officer, Office of the
Premier, (418) 643-5321; Marie-Elaine Deveault, Press Officer, Hydro-Québec,
(514) 289-4307; Pascal D'Astous, Press Officer, Office of the Minister of
Natural Resources and Wildlife, (418) 643-7295; Gabie Cormier, Municipality of
Havre-Saint-Pierre, (418) 538-2717; Band Council of the First Nation of
Nutashkuan, (418) 726-3529