FREDERICTON (GNB) – In advance of a series of public sessions on the future of Mactaquac Generating Station and the close of public input on May 31, NB Power is providing an update on the status of the project.

“Our goal is to make a sound and lasting decision about the future of Mactaquac that makes good business sense and is one that all New Brunswickers can live with and afford,” said Gaëtan Thomas, president and CEO of NB Power. “At the start of this decision process, we committed to sharing and considering new information as it became available. We are living up to that commitment.”

The station is expected to reach the end of its service life prematurely because of expansion problems with its concrete structures. NB Power will recommend a future path by the end of this year.

Since 2013, NB Power has been working through an evaluation and decision process involving scientists, engineers, environmental experts, First Nations and members of the public. Much of that work has been focused on three end-of-life options for the station, which include building a brand-new generating station across the river from the current site, removing all structures to allow the river to return to a natural flow or leaving the dam in place but without power generation.

For the last number of years, NB Power has been continuously testing and modelling the impacts of concrete expansion at the station to manage its effects and gain a better understanding of its structural integrity and behavior.

In recent months, technology has allowed for more detailed modelling of actual and potential impacts of the concrete expansion at the station, revealing better structural integrity than was previously understood. These results are consistent with ongoing testing of concrete samples taken from the station.

This improved understanding has provided NB Power with greater confidence in the potential for alternative approaches to allow the station to generate electricity beyond 2030, perhaps even to its original 100-year service life.

These alternative approaches have arisen from due diligence studies under investigation since 2014. They have been discussed in various public documents and presentations, including NB Power’s recent discussion paper, Considering the Future of Mactaquac.

There are two approaches under review:

  • removing and replacing concrete in the most affected parts of the station, and replacing or repairing certain mechanical and electrical equipment; and
  • stabilizing and replacing some concrete in the most affected parts of the station, replacing or repairing certain mechanical and electrical equipment, and occasionally re-adjusting the position of the equipment.

Some of the mechanical and electrical equipment that would be repaired or replaced in these approaches would have been due for replacement in any event due to age and wear.

In the coming months, NB Power will study the technical characteristics and costs of these approaches while continuing to evaluate the three previously identified end-of-life options.

NB Power anticipates the key environmental, social and First Nation impacts of these approaches would be similar to current operations and have been largely identified through existing processes, including the draft Comparative Environmental Review and Social Impact Comparative Review reports, as well as public and First Nations engagement.

NB Power will provide an update on the project later this month at a series of community sessions about the future of the station. These sessions will include a presentation and community conversation about what is most important about the future of the station.

The public sessions are scheduled as follows:

  • May 17, Crowne Plaza, Fredericton, 6 p.m. to9 p.m.;
  • May 18, Riverside Resort, Mactaquac, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.; and
  • May 19, Best Western, Woodstock, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The Mactaquac Generating Station is a run-of-the-river hydroelectric generating facility located west of Fredericton on the St. John River. The station began operating in 1968, and has the capacity to generate 670 megawatts of energy using the flow of water through six turbines. The station supplies about 12 per cent of New Brunswick homes and businesses with clean, low-cost power.

More information is available in this backgrounder and on the station’s website.