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NW Ontario power station getting an upgrade

Ontario Power Generation overhauling 117-year-old Kakabeka Falls Generating Station
Ontario Power Generation is planning to refurbish the Kakabeka Falls Generating Station as the 117-year-old facility nears the end of its life.

Upgrades are planned for the Kakabeka Falls Generating Station to modernize the facility and add capacity, which will extend its life another 90 years.

Ontario Power Generation (OPG) announced in December that plans are in the works to redevelop the 117-year-old hydroelectric station over the next few years as it nears the end of its life.

“This important project will help maintain and build on the legacy of Kakabeka Falls GS, which has provided clean power for Ontario for more than a century,” said Paul Seguin, OPG’s senior vice-president of renewable generation, in a statement on the power utility’s website.

“With modern equipment and increased clean generating capacity, the redeveloped Kakabeka Falls GS will help OPG and Ontario meet its net-zero goals while supporting province-wide electrification for decades to come.”

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Located in northwestern Ontario, in the traditional territory of Fort William First Nation, the station was built in 1906 by Kaministiquia Power Company and has been expanded multiple times.

But much of the same equipment is in use as when the station was built, OPG said, and upgrades are needed for it to continue operating efficiently.

Plans include building a new powerhouse extension upstream of the existing powerhouse on the eastern bank of the Kaministiquia River, which will house two new, modern turbine-generating units capable of generating approximately 27 megawatts (MW) of electricity.

That’s a 13 per cent increase from the station’s current capacity of 24.4 MW, OPG said.

OPG will remove the four existing generating units and ancillary equipment, as well as the four existing penstocks, which will be replaced with new ones.

The station will also get a replacement surge tank, which is used to manage abrupt changes in water pressure.

OPG said the project is currently in the definition phase, which includes front-end engineering and design work.

Consultation is ongoing with residents of Fort William First Nation, who are expected to benefit from the development project.

Construction is anticipated to start in 2025 and be completed in 2027.