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.

“For more than a century, Ontario Power Generation has reliably produced clean and economical hydroelectric power for Ontarians,” said Ken Hartwick, president and CEO of OPG. “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.”

Featured image:  OPG has partnerships with three First Nations on six OPG Generating Stations, including the Lac Seul Generating Station. (OPG)

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