OPG to investigate new hydroelectric options

Ontario Construction News staff writer

The Ontario government has asked Ontario Power Generation (OPG) to examine opportunities for new hydroelectric development in northern Ontario.

“Our government is working to deliver a clean, reliable and affordable electricity system now and into the future,” said Todd Smith, Minister of Energy. “Beginning with Niagara Falls, hydroelectric generation has played a critical role meeting Ontario’s electricity needs for over a century and we are excited to explore new opportunities to meet future needs and build on Ontario’s achievement of one of the cleanest electricity grids in the world.”

New hydroelectric generation could address growing long-term electricity needs forecast for the province, with the potential for economic benefits for local and Indigenous communities in the North, he added.

Working with the Ontario Waterpower Association, OPG will update previous evaluations of hydroelectric potential in northern Ontario with new estimates on water availability, annual energy production potential, and life-cycle costs of building and operating new hydroelectric generation while engaging with Northern and Indigenous communities.

“To power the Ontario of the future, we must explore new sources of hydroelectric power,” said Minister of Mines, Northern development, Natural Resources and Forestry Greg Rickford.

“Hydro is one of the cleanest and most reliable energy sources in the world. Further hydro development could spur job creation in Indigenous and remote communities, power industries and communities, and will ensure a cleaner future for our province.”

Minister Smith has asked OPG to specifically engage with Indigenous communities and organizations to understand how Indigenous communities could participate in and benefit from future hydroelectric generation projects. Ontario is committed to consulting with Indigenous communities and honouring existing agreements with Indigenous communities related to hydroelectric development.

The IESO has forecast an increased demand for electricity capacity due to increased electrification and the closure of the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station at Pickering and the refurbishment of Ontario’s other nuclear facilities.

Hydroelectric stations provided approximately 24 per cent of Ontario’s electricity generation in 2020. On average this hydroelectric power is the lowest-cost electricity in Ontario and supports our clean energy advantage.

To date, more than a dozen of Ontario’s waterpower generating stations include Indigenous ownership. OPG has partnerships with three First Nations on six OPG Generating Stations, including the Lac Seul Generating Station, Lower Mattagami Redevelopment Project and Peter Sutherland Sr. GS.

“For more than a century, Ontario Power Generation has reliably produced clean and economical hydroelectric power for Ontarians. As electrification to help meet climate change goals progresses, there will be a need for additional clean electricity, and new non-emitting waterpower from Ontario’s north has the potential to help fill that need. Through this study, we will apply our experience in this area to help unlock this potential,” said Ken Hartwick, president and CEO at OPG.


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