Wuskwatim power station officially opens

Manitoba's newest hydroelectric station was officially opened on Thursday.

Manitoba's newest hydroelectric station was officially opened on Thursday.

Premier Greg Selinger toured the Wuskwatim Dam and generating station at Taskinigup Falls, on the Burntwood River near Thompson, about 800 kilometres north of Winnipeg.

The $1.37-billion project, the first northern hydro dam to be built in 20 years, has taken six years to build.

It has been working since June but this is the grand opening and tour.

The 200-megawatt station was developed by the Wuskwatim Power Ltd. Partnership (WPLP), a venture between the Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation (NCN) and Manitoba Hydro.

Hydro will operate the project on behalf of WPLP.

"Wuskwatim marks a new chapter in northern hydroelectric development for Manitoba," said Selinger.

"For the first time, Manitoba Hydro has fully partnered with a local First Nation impacted by hydro development, ensuring that community members had a say in the planning, design and construction of this facility.

"Wuskwatim has provided, and will continue to provide, years of income for the Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation (NCN) through training, employment and other economic development activities."

Building a generating station

An insider's view of the construction process.

NCN Chief Jerry Primrose called the generating station and the partnership with the province "an exciting time for our community.

"For the first time, our people will benefit in a more meaningful way from hydro development, rather than just through compensation after the fact. We have been active in this project from the beginning, and to see it come to fruition is extremely rewarding."

The first of three generators is currently operating, while the other two are expected to go into service later in 2012.

Electricity from Wuskwatim will be fed into Manitoba Hydro's provincial power grid and used to meet the domestic needs of the province.