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Montrose plant may be offline until spring


Laura Walz, Powell River Peak, December 19, 2012

Montrose plant may be offline until spring

A large rockslide has damaged the 88-megawatt Montrose hydroelectric facility in the Toba Valley.

Donald McInnes, executive vice chairman of Alterra Power Corporation, said the rockslide, which happened on December 12, did not damage the intake structure or the power plant and there were no injuries. Damage was limited to a section of the pipe that is used to convey the water from the intake structure down to the powerhouse, he added. “The other good part about the event is that it occurred at a time of the year when there are almost no flows,” he said. “It will have a very minimal impact on our operation. Hopefully, once the team assesses the extent of the damage, we’ll be able to put a plan in place that allows the facility to be completely repaired in time for increased water flows as we move toward the spring.”

The rockslide occurred naturally, according to a company statement, and the repairs may require the plant to be offline for several months. The nearby 146-megawatt Toba hydroelectric plant was not affected and remains in operation.

In other Alterra developments, the company announced that Fiera Axium Infrastructure has become its partner in the 235-megawatt Toba-Montrose run-of-river hydro facility and the 144-megawatt Dokie 1 wind farm in BC, effective December 7.

A consortium of Canadian investors led by Fiera Axium purchased GE Energy Financial Services’ partnership interests and now owns a 60 per cent interest in Toba Montrose and a 49 per cent interest in Dokie 1. Alterra’s ownership interests in these facilities are unchanged at 40 per cent and 51 per cent respectively.

“GE decided to monetize their investments in Dokie wind farm and Toba-Montrose project,” said McInnes. “It did so because there is a lot of money in private equity looking for ownership opportunities in assets that produce a constant yield. In the general stock market, companies that pay a dividend have seen a huge appreciation and those that don’t pay a dividend have had very little interest in the stock market.”

The Toba-Montrose assets will turn out “a nice return for the owners year in, year out,” McInnes added. “It’s an attractive opportunity and these assets are highly valued right now, so GE decided it could sell them for what I expect was quite a good profit for them.”

Fiera Axium is an independent portfolio management firm that invests in core infrastructure assets. McInnes said Fiera is one partner in an investing syndicate that is made up largely of Canadian pension funds.

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