Skip to content

OPG has hungry eyes for

Capitalizing on Northern Ontario’s natural environment to produce clean, renewable power is the intent of Quebec-based Hydromega Services Inc., as well as Ontario Power Generation Inc. (OPG).

Capitalizing on Northern Ontario’s natural environment to produce clean, renewable power is the intent of Quebec-based Hydromega Services Inc., as well as Ontario Power Generation Inc. (OPG).

Both companies are players involved and/or interested in hydroelectric generation on the Kapuskasing and Mattagami Rivers.

Hydromega Services Inc. project manager Stéphane Boyer says this is the first time the company has gone outside of its home province. As an independent power producer developing hydroelectric facilities in Quebec, the 21-year-old company has built and created about 50 megawatts (MW). Presently, Hydromega Services owns one 30-MW producing facility and is building a new 40-MW plant in northern Quebec.

In September 2005, the company was awarded the opportunity to pursue the necessary approvals to construct and operate a waterpower facility on the Kapuskasing River. The work site was south of the town on a segment approximately 20 kilometres long, according to Bill Greenaway, Hearst District area supervisor for the Ministry of Natural Resources.

Boyer says they are in the process of acquiring an environmental assessment (EA) and the approvals required to build two hydroelectric plants, capable of generating about 17 MW.

The proposal includes the development of Big Beaver Falls and White Otter Falls.

Power generated from the sites will be sold back to the Ontario Power Authority, says Boyer.

Consultations with the public and First Nations communities will occur during the EA process, which Boyer expects will be completed by the end of 2006. Once all the permits are in place, construction is anticipated to begin at the end of 2007 or beginning of 2008, with a first estimate cost of $60 million, Boyer says.

During this time, the use of human and material resources will be utilized, benefiting the local economy.

“Reliable estimates state that 50 per cent of each dollar spent constructing a hydro-electric facility remains in the regional economy and upwards of 80 per cent remains in the province,” Greenaway said.

Up until now, Hydromega Services has only dealt with Quebec legislation, however, Boyer says the requirements are similar, as are some of the federal agencies with which they’ve had consultations.

As the company gets its feet wet in the Ontario market, Boyer added that they are interested in pursuing other opportunities in Ontario.

In the meantime, Mattagami First Nations and OPG recently announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding setting out the objectives toward a partnership for future hydroelectric development at OPG’s Mattagami Lake control dam. Located 50 km south of Timmins, there is a proposal to develop between three and six MW on the site, OPG spokesperson John Earl said in an e-mail.

The Upper Mattagami River Re-Development Project is aimed at re-developing the three World War One-era generators. Located north of and within the municipal boundaries of Timmins and Lower Sturgeon, these generators (Wawaitin, Sandy Falls and Lower Sturgeon) collectively produce 18.7 MW. The refurbishment would result in a total output of about 27 MW.

Approximately 70 km north of Kapuskasing, the Lower Mattagami River Extensions Project has the potential to add about 400 MW of power to four generating stations, three built in the 1960s and one in 1927. Currently, the total output is 483.4 MW. Earl says environmental approvals were received in 1991 and preliminary engineering work on the commercial feasibility of the project is nearing completion.

Although he would not disclose a dollar figure or completion date, he said there may be employment opportunities for First Nations in the construction of the Lower Mattagami project.