Brief: Columbia Basin Trust, Columbia Power purchase Waneta Expansion

Ownership returns to originally mandated 50/50 partnership; long-term financial benefits to the Columbia Basin and the province.

The Waneta Expansion project. Photo: Columbia Basin Trust.

Columbia Basin Trust and Columbia Power Corporation have signed a deal with Fortis Inc. to purchase the utility company’s 51 per cent interest in the now completed Waneta Dam expansion project for a cool $991 million. The Trust and Columbia Power, who currently own 49 per cent of the expansion, worked closely with the BC provincial government to make the purchase possible.

Information taken from Columbia Power’s website states the expansion project added a second powerhouse location immediately downstream of the Waneta Dam, located on the Pend d’Oreille River in Trail. The 335-MW facility shares the existing hydraulic head and generates clean, renewable, cost effective power from water that would other wise be spilled,and provides enough energy to power 60,000 homes.

“We are extremely pleased to be restoring ownership to the originally mandated 50/50 partnership,” said Johnny Strilaeff, president and CEO, Columbia Basin Trust and acting president and CEO, Columbia Power Corporation said in a media release. “Columbia Basin residents value the local ownership of all of our facilities and will enjoy even greater benefits now, and in the future, as more of the revenues are injected back into this region and to the Province.”

There will be no change to operations or to any key agreements. Long-term agreements are in place with BC Hydro to purchase the energy and with FortisBC to operate the facility and purchase surplus capacity.

“This is an incredible opportunity for the government to work in collaboration with Columbia Power Corporation and Columbia Basin Trust to return this valued asset to the people of the Columbia Basin,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister Responsible for the Columbia River Treaty, Columbia Basin Trust and Columbia Power Corporation. “The return on this investment will benefit the province and residents of the Columbia Basin for generations to come.”