Ontario Power Generation advances nuclear, hydro power projects

Ontario Power Generation (OPG) is undertaking several generation development projects to support Ontario’s long-term electricity requirements, including extended life for the existing Darlington nuclear plant and new nuclear capacity at the Darlington site.

OPG said in its Aug. 15 earnings statement covering the second quarter that significant achievements during the quarter included:

  • Darlington Refurbishment – In July 2013, OPG received the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission’s final assessment of the Integrated Safety Review (ISR) which confirmed that the ISR meets applicable regulatory requirements.
  • Lower Mattagami – The Lower Mattagami River hydro project is expected to be completed on plan by June 2015 within the approved budget of C$2.6bn. OPG has finalized and executed a remediation plan regarding a cofferdam breach at the Kipling site, and construction activity resumed at the Kipling site in May. Construction activity at the Little Long site is currently ahead of schedule, with the station expected to be in-service in the fourth quarter of 2013.
  • New Post Creek – In June, the Minister of Energy directed the Ontario Power Authority to negotiate a power purchase agreement for the proposed 25-MW New Post Creek hydro station. The station is expected to be constructed through a partnership between OPG and Coral Rapids Power LP, a wholly owned subsidiary of Taykwa Tagamou Nation. The environmental assessment for the project is expected to be completed by the end of 2013.

Power output for OPG was down in the first half of this year

For OPG, total electricity generated during the second quarter was 19.9 terawatt hours (TWh), compared to 20.5 TWh for the same quarter in 2012. This decrease was mainly due to lower generation at the Pickering nuclear station.

Total electricity generated during the six months ended June 30 was 41.0 TWh, compared to 42.5 TWh for the same period in 2012. This decrease was primarily due to lower generation from OPG’s regulated nuclear and hydro segments, partially offset by higher generation from the unregulated hydro segment.

For the three- and six-month periods in 2013, the capability factor for the Pickering station fell, compared to the same periods in 2012. The decrease in the capability factor for the second quarter to 65.9% from 79.3% for the same period in 2012, was primarily due to an increase in outage days. For the six months ended June 30, the capability factor decreased to 72.4% from 78.1% for the same period in 2012, primarily due to an extension to an outage in the first quarter.

For the three months ended June 30, Darlington’s capability factor of 85.9% was a slight increase from 85.6% in 2012. For the six months ended June 30, the capability factor for the Darlington station was 85% compared to 90.6% for the same period in 2012, reflecting an increase in outage days.

“In the first half of 2013, we provided about 60 per cent of the electricity used in this province through nuclear, hydro and thermal generation,” said President and CEO Tom Mitchell. “And the price we received is approximately 45 per cent below the average price received by all other Ontario electricity generators.”

Mitchell noted: “The Government of Ontario recently directed the Ontario Power Authority to allow OPG to compete for other forms of renewable generation in addition to hydroelectric. This is a new direction for us as a company and one where we believe we can add value. We will apply the same principles for these potential projects as those applied in our current projects and operations. We will work with communities to ensure they understand and support our efforts before, during and after construction and operation.”

Mitchell said OPG will continue to seek out partnerships with Aboriginal communities such as the current hydroelectric projects with the Moose Cree First Nation on the Lower Mattagami River and the Taykwa Tagamou Nation at New Post Creek along the Abitibi River.

OPG operates two nuclear stations, five thermal stations, 65 hydro stations and two wind power turbines. OPG and TransCanada Energy Ltd. co-own the Portlands Energy Centre (PEC) gas-fired combined cycle generating station (GS). OPG and ATCO Power Canada Ltd. co-own the Brighton Beach gas-fired combined cycle GS. OPG also owns two other nuclear stations, which are leased on a long-term basis to Bruce Power L.P.

In March, the Niagara Tunnel was completed and declared in-service. It provides an additional water diversion capacity of approximately 500 cubic meters per second, and will increase annual generation from the Sir Adam Beck GS by an average of approximately 1.5 TWh, depending on water flow.

During the first quarter of 2013, OPG and the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) signed a Reliability Must Run contract for one unit at the coal-fired Thunder Bay GS, for the period January-December 2013. The contract was approved by the OEB in July. OPG is continuing its work regarding the feasibility of burning advanced biomass at the Thunder Bay GS.

OPG noted that it is on schedule for an August 2014 in-service date on the coal-to-biomass converted Atikokan power plant.

Refurbished existing and new nuclear capacity in the works at Darlington

The above-mentioned Darlington Refurbishment project is currently in the definition phase. In July, OPG received the CNSC’s final assessment of the Integrated Safety Review (ISR), which confirmed that the ISR meets applicable regulatory requirements. The Darlington Energy Complex was placed in-service in June. The complex will house a training and reactor mock-up facility, warehouse, and office space to support the refurbishment project.

In May, OPG commenced the construction of the Darlington reactor full-scale mock-up facility. This includes structural steel construction of a section of the reactor vault and the completion of preliminary designs for all specialized tooling. Tooling fabrication of carefully designed specialized equipment will begin once the detailed designs are complete. The reactor mock-up facility and specialized tooling are expected to be completed by the second quarter of 2014 to allow for tooling testing and training to commence.

In June, submissions were received from Westinghouse Electric Canada and SNC-Lavalin Nuclear/Candu Energy, in accordance with their respective service agreements. The submissions included detailed construction plans, schedule and cost estimates for two potential new nuclear reactors at Darlington. The submissions will be analyzed by representatives from OPG, the Ministry of Energy, the Ministry of Finance, and Infrastructure Ontario. A report will be submitted to the province, which will decide on whether to move forward with new nuclear reactors.

In 2012, the Power Reactor Site Preparation Licence and Darlington New Nuclear Project Environmental Assessment were challenged by way of judicial review. The hearing for the judicial review of the licence and the environmental assessment is set for November.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.