Province Asking Ontario Power Generation to Investigate New Hydroelectric Opportunities
Updated: Jan 28
TORONTO – As part of its plan to build out Ontario’s affordable, reliable and sustainable electricity system, the Ontario government has asked Ontario Power Generation (OPG) to examine opportunities for new hydroelectric development in northern Ontario. New hydroelectric generation could address the growing long-term electricity needs forecast for the province, with the potential for economic benefits for local and Indigenous communities in the North.
“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.”
Through the review, OPG, working with the Ontario Waterpower Association, 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.
OPG will share this work with the Ministry of Energy as well as the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) so that it can be considered as part of the IESO’s work towards developing an achievable pathway to zero emissions in the electricity sector.
“To power the Ontario of the future, we must explore new sources of hydroelectric power,” said Greg Rickford, Minister of Mines, Northern Development, Natural Resources and Forestry. “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 also 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.
On October 7, 2021 Minister Smith asked the IESO to evaluate a moratorium on the procurement of new natural gas generation stations in Ontario and develop an achievable pathway for consideration to phase out natural-gas generation and achieve zero emissions in Ontario’s electricity system.
In December 2021 Ontario and OPG announced the selected technology partner to deploy Canada’s first grid-scale Small Modular Reactor at Darlington as part of the provinces plan for a clean, reliaible and affordable electricity system.
"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." - Ken Hartwick President and CEO of OPG "Waterpower is Ontario's foundational electricity source and a backbone to a reliable, affordable and sustainable system. This initiative will help inform the province's choices as we move into a period of increased demand driven by economic recovery and electrification." - Paul Norris President of the Ontario Waterpower Association
Minister of Energy Todd Smith tours the Smoky Falls Generating Station located on the Mattagami River near Kapuskasing. Smoky Falls Generating Station is operated by OPG in partnership with Moose Cree First Nation and has been in service since 1931 with a capacity of 267 MW. Photo from September 2021.
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