VANCOUVER, March 10 /CNW/ - GE Energy Financial Services, a unit of GE (NYSE: GE), and Plutonic Power Corporation (TSX: PCC) announced today that discussions are continuing with BC Hydro on an Energy Purchase Agreement for the proposed Upper Toba Valley Hydroelectric Project along British Columbia's southwest coast. BC Hydro advises that it intends to award contracts under the Clean Power Call in March 2010.
Since announced in 2008, the Upper Toba Valley Project in the Toba Valley 150 kilometers north of Powell River has been modified to focus on two run-of-river hydroelectric facilities: Upper Toba River and Jimmie Creek, with a total design capacity of 124.3 megawatts (MW). The original proposal included a third hydro facility on Dalgleish Creek, which would have meant a total planned generation capacity of 166 MW. Dalgleish was dropped during discussions with BC Hydro because of concerns about capacity constraints on a transmission line between Saltery Bay and Malaspina. Plutonic believes that Dalgleish remains a viable project site should transmission constraints be resolved.
Plutonic Power and GE Energy Financial Services jointly bid the Upper Toba Valley Project into BC Hydro's 2008 Clean Power Call in November 2008. In April 2009, the Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources granted the project a Provincial Environmental Assessment Certificate.
"We are pleased with the progress to date on the modified Upper Toba Valley Project," said Donald McInnes, Vice-Chair and CEO of Plutonic Power Corporation. "If successful, this would be Plutonic's and GE Energy Financial Services' third project in BC, reinforcing our ability to deliver quality projects for the benefit of all British Columbians as well as our shareholders. In one year, we expect to have two projects on line -- the 196-MW run-of-river Toba Montrose Project and the 144-MW Dokie Wind project, and if awarded an Energy Purchase Agreement and, if other approvals are secured, to start construction on the Upper Toba Project."
The Upper Toba Valley Project is estimated to create up to 400 person-years of employment over a two-to-three year construction period and will utilize the same transmission line already constructed for the East Toba River Montrose Creek Hydroelectric Project.
In addition to finalizing an Energy Purchase Agreement, completion of the Upper Toba Valley Project is subject to such conditions as finalization of satisfactory documentation, approval of investment committees and boards of directors, and senior debt financing for the projects, and regulatory approvals.
Update on the Bute Inlet Hydroelectric Project
Plutonic Power and GE Energy Financial Services had submitted a second bid into BC Hydro's 2008 Clean Power Call in November 2008, for the proposed Bute Inlet Hydroelectric Project. Negotiations with BC Hydro for an Energy Purchase Agreement for the Bute Inlet Project will not proceed at this time, in order to allow for further data collection, studies and due-diligence.
"We strongly believe that the Bute Inlet Project is an exceptional opportunity that will be developed in due course, however we will not move ahead with pursuing an EPA at this time," said McInnes. "We have learned a great deal and proven our ability to bring all stakeholders together on our three other projects in BC, and given the size of the Bute Inlet Project and the level of interest expressed by First Nations, regulators and the public, we now realize that further work is needed. During the next 12 to 18 months, we will advance our studies and permitting processes as well as build on our strong relationship with the local communities, stakeholders and our First Nations partners."
About GE Energy Financial Services
GE Energy Financial Services' experts invest globally with a long-term view, backed by the best of GE's technical know-how, financial strength and rigorous risk management, across the capital spectrum, in one of the world's most capital-intensive industries, energy. GE Energy Financial Services helps its customers and GE grow through new investments, strong partnerships and optimization of its US$23 billion in assets. GE Energy Financial Services is based in Stamford, Connecticut. For more information, visit www.geenergyfinancialservices.com.
GE (NYSE: GE) is a diversified global infrastructure, finance and media company that is built to meet essential world needs. From energy, water, transportation and health to access to money and information, GE serves customers in more than 100 countries and employs more than 300,000 people worldwide. For more information, visit the company's Web site at http://www.ge.com. GE is Imagination at Work.
About Plutonic Power Corporation
British Columbia based Plutonic Power is a Canadian leader in clean energy development. Our vision is to create a legacy through the development of renewable, reliable, clean energy projects. Plutonic is a partner in 340 megawatts of hydro and wind projects that are under construction. In 2010 commercial operations will start at the $660 million, 196 megawatt East Toba River and Montrose Creek run-of-river hydroelectric project. Active construction is also underway on the $227.5 million, 144 megawatt Dokie Wind Project, thereby diversifying Plutonic Power's clean energy portfolio. Plutonic is committed to working in partnership with First Nations, stakeholder groups and local communities in the development of all of its projects. By developing its suite of projects, Plutonic will help British Columbia realize its goal of becoming electricity self-sufficient by 2016 utilizing 90% clean domestic generation sources, will create employment opportunities and will play a significant role in the fight against climate change.
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For further information: For further information: Christa Bowers, GE Energy Financial Services, Office: (203) 961-2934, Cell: (203) 339-1434; Elisha McCallum, Plutonic Power Corporation - Media/Community Relations, Office: (604) 669-4999, Cell: (604) 880-0073, email@example.com; Lisa May, Plutonic Power Corporation - Investor Relations, Office: (604) 669-4999, Cell: (604) 314-3362, firstname.lastname@example.org