Manitoba Hydro is currently planning for the proposed Keeyask Generating Station on the Nelson River. According to YFFN’s 1995 NFA Comprehensive Implementation agreement, Manitoba Hydro is required to consult with YFFN on any future hydroelectric development projects on the Nelson River. YFFN Chief and Council have been meeting with Manitoba Hydro to discuss the Keeyask Project since 2001. The Keeyask negotiations have addressed compensation for adverse (negative) effects on YFFN, employment and training opportunities, potential business contracts, and environmental effects.
In addition, YFFN, Manitoba Hydro, Tataskweyak Cree Nation, War Lake First Nation, and Fox Lake Cree Nation negotiated a partnership for Keeyask similar to the Manitoba Hydro – NCN partnership on the Wuskwatim project. For YFFN, this partnership means investing in and receiving revenues from the Keeyask project. This partnership is described in more detail here .
If the Keeyask Generation Project is licensed and built, it will be located at Gull Rapids, which is 62 km (38 miles) downstream of York Landing, about 47 km downstream of Split Lake and 4 km upstream of Stephens Lake.
The “Keeyask Generation Project” includes the Generating Station and several related works (dikes, dams, and work camps). The transmission line (“Keeyask Transmission Project”) and the access road (“Keeyask Infrastructure Project”) to the Generating Station site at Gull Rapids are necessary and related projects, but they are not considered part of the Keeyask Generation Project (see Keeyask Infrastructure Project).
The Keeyask Generation Station is expected to generate 695 Megawatts (MW), or an average of 4,400 gigawatt (GW) hours of electricity per year. Initial construction of the station is expected to take six years (until the first unit is in service) and an additional two years to complete construction. As of June 2012, the first turbine is expected to be operational in 2019, but all turbines wouldn’t be commissioned until 2020.
The Keeyask project would include both main structures and supporting infrastructure. Main structures include permanent structures for the generating station. Supporting infrastructure include temporary structures that are required for the construction to take place.
The permanent structures would include:
- Powerhouse/service bay complex (housing seven turbines) built across the north side of Gull Rapids;
- Spillway (seven bays) built across the south side of Gull Rapids;
- Dams across Gull Rapids (north/central/south);
- Dikes built on the north and south sides of the reservoir; and
- Transmission tower spur (the attachment point for a transmission line).
The supporting infrastructure would include:
- Construction camps;
- Contractors work areas;
- Construction power services (temporary power lines to supply construction activities);
- Borrow areas;
- Cofferdams (temporary dams to divert water away from the construction site)
- Ice boom (a floating structure, anchored at opposing shorelines and/or the river bottom, designed to help form and hold an ice cover in place)
The Keeyask Project would flood 45.1 km2 (11,100 acres) of land upstream of Gull Rapids, creating a 93.1 km2 (23,000 acres) reservoir. Shoreline erosion in the years following initial flooding would cause the area of the reservoir to increase, however, the scale of this can only be estimated. Manitoba Hydro predicts that flooding will be limited to the area between the outlet of Clark Lake and Gull Rapids. YFFN representatives and elders, however, have expressed skepticism about Manitoba Hydro’s predictions and anticipate environmental changes extending beyond the flooded areas.