OPG redeveloping 117-year-old Kakabeka Falls generating station

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Robin MacLennan

Ontario Construction Report staff writer

OPG has announced plans to redevelop the Kakabeka Falls generating station near Thunder Bay. The project will include construction of a new powerhouse extension with two new generating units, a new surge tank, and new penstocks.

A redeveloped Kakabeka Falls station will provide approximately 27 MW of clean power and operate for additional 90 years – one of OPG’s oldest hydroelectric generating stations is set to be redeveloped.

Currently, the northwest Ontario site is the second-oldest hydro station in OPG’s fleet. It is set to be redeveloped in the coming years.

Moch of its original equipment from 1906 remains in operation. With a peak output of 24.4 megawatts (MW), the time-tested plant continues to provide enough electricity from its four units to power about 25,000 homes.

However, Kakabeka Falls is expected to reach its end of life in the next few years. In preparation, OPG is now planning for the station’s redevelopment to ensure it can continue to generate clean, reliable power for an additional 90 years.

The project is now in the definition phase, which includes front-end engineering and design work. Construction is expected to start in 2025 and be completed in 2027,

Work will include building of a new powerhouse extension located upstream of the existing powerhouse on the eastern bank of the Kaministiquia River.

The new powerhouse will house two new modern turbine-generating units capable of generating approximately 27 MW of clean electricity, about three MW more than the plant’s current capacity, or a 13% increase.

The station is located within the traditional territory of the Fort William First Nation, opposite of the Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park.

Four existing generating units and ancillary equipment will be removed from the current powerhouse, which will be maintained in its original location. The four existing penstocks will also be removed and replaced with new penstocks. Finally, the project will replace the plant’s surge tank, which is used to manage abrupt changes in water pressure.

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