Ottawa wants to hear from Albertans on whether it should review power plant

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FORT SASKATCHEWAN, Alta. – A federal agency is deciding whether there should be an environmental review of a plan by ATCO to build a gas-fired power plant northeast of Edmonton.

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency says it wants to hear from the public before it makes a decision on the plant, which is expected to cost around $800 million.

ATCO Power Canada (TSX:ACO.X) says it would like to start construction this year in an area known as Alberta’s Industrial Heartland and have it operating by 2017.

The agency says that, if approved, the plant would operate for about 35 years and have a maximum power capacity of 400 megawatts.

There are more than 40 companies that operate refineries, oilsands upgraders, chemical plants and other heavy industry in the Heartland area.

ATCO says there is growing demand for cleaner electricity in Alberta at the same time that companies are phasing out coal-fired power plants.

“The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency must decide whether a federal environmental assessment is required for the proposed Heartland generating station project located in Alberta,” the agency wrote in an email Friday.

“To assist in making its decision, the agency is seeking comments from the public on the project and its potential effects on the environment.”

Calgary-based ATCO says the project would create up to 400 construction jobs for up to three years and deliver 35 full-time jobs after that.

ATCO currently operates 10 power-generating plants in Alberta — two run on coal, one on hydro and seven on natural gas.

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