OPG prepares to rebuild Calabogie hydro electric generating station

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

Ontario Power Generation (OPG) is preparing for a major rebuild of the Calabogie hydro-electric generating station, one of the utility’s oldest – it was originally constructed in 2017.

A tornado hit the station on Sept. 21, 2018 – one of six that landed in the Ottawa-Gatineau area.  There were wind gusts estimated at 175 km per hour, which ripped off the powerhouse’s roof. The station has been idle since then.

A joint venture between SNC Lavalin and Ottawa-based M. Sullivan & Son (SNC-Sullivan), will complete the rebuild under a design-build contract, OPG reports.

Work will include demolishing the existing existing powerhouse and forebay inlet structure and building a new powerhouse with integral intake structure and tailrace. “Other ancillary facilities will also be constructed,” says an environmental assessment released earlier this month by Arcadis Canada Inc. “The project may also involve the construction of additional sluiceway capacity.”

“The proposed project is expected to result in the creation of approximately 162 to 185 person years of work over an approximately two-year construction period. This employment will be distributed across a wide variety of professions and trades typically associated with a heavy construction project. Large labour needs will include: engineers; equipment operators, labourers, drillers, cement workers, ironworkers/rodmen, electricians, welders, carpenters, etc.”

Before last year’s tornado made things more urgent, OPG had concluded that it would make sense to rebuild the station, instead of repairing or refurbishing it, Hydro Review reports.

OPG has been going through the lengthy and challenging environmental assessment and review process, holding two community open houses (the most recent in June).

OPG says it plans to demolish the existing powerhouse, with the new structure more than doubling its capacity to about 10.89 Mw. However, the utility says it doesn’t plan to alter current water levels and flows. The expanded capacity will generate enough power to light about 11,000 homes per year.

OPG says it will consult with local First Nations, including the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan and the Algonquins of Ontario. “Consultation with Indigenous communities and the public is an integral component of this process,” said Mike Martelli, president of renewable generation at OPG.

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