Ontario Power starts Darlington nuclear rehab; works on solar project issues

Provincial utility Ontario Power Generation (OPG) reported Nov. 11 that it made progress in several areas during the third quarter of this year, including work leading up to a construction start on the nuclear Darlington Refurbishment project.

In October, OPG commenced the refurbishment of the first Darlington generation station (GS) unit, Unit 2, as part of the Darlington Refurbishment project. The unit was taken offline on Oct. 15 and the initial steps of de-fuelling the reactor have begun. The unit is scheduled to be returned to service in the first quarter of 2020.

The Darlington generating units are approaching their originally designed end-of-life. Refurbishment of the units is expected to extend the operating life of the station by approximately 30 years. Once refurbished, Unit 2 is scheduled to be returned to service in the first quarter of 2020, at which time capital expenditures of approximately C$4.8 billion are planned to be placed in service. This includes expenditures incurred during the definition and planning phase of the project.

The Government of Ontario’s support for the Darlington Refurbishment project has been affirmed through the Minister of Energy’s announcement in January 2016 endorsing OPG’s plan to refurbish the four Darlington units. Execution of pre-breaker open work to support the commencement of the refurbishment of Unit 2 has been completed and the refurbishment is progressing in line with the schedule. De-fueling of the reactor, which is the first critical refurbishment activity undertaken once the unit is removed from service, has commenced, with a total of 480 fuel channels scheduled to be de-fueled. This will be followed by preparatory work in the reactor vault to support the successive removal of feeder tubes and fuel channel assemblies.

Other key project activities are continuing:

  • Preparation activities on the major sub-projects are progressing in line with the first unit’s refurbishment schedule;
  • Extensive testing and refurbishment task rehearsals continue for the specialized tooling that will be used to remove and replace feeder tubes and fuel channel assemblies in each reactor;
  • Fabrication of the major reactor components including fuel channels and feeder tubes is in progress, with planned deliveries tracking in line with the project schedule;
  • Project support activities and activities in support of requirements set out in an approved Integrated Implementation Plan for the Darlington GS continue;
  • Pre-requisite projects including construction of facilities, infrastructure upgrades and installation of safety enhancements have either been completed or are continuing to track to completion in line with the refurbishment execution schedule.

OPG also reported that the project to construct the Peter Sutherland Sr. hydroelectric generating station is tracking on budget and is estimated to be completed before the end of 2017, ahead of the original planned schedule of the first half of 2018. Construction work on the project continues, including the enclosure of the power house building, commissioning and turnover of the overhead crane to a subcontractor to begin installation of the turbine and generator, and completion of the spillway concrete structure. Work also continues to progress on the penstock installation and building of the east and west dams in preparation for filling of the reservoir.

During the third quarter of 2016, OPG’s two biomass-fueled stations, the formerly coal-fired Atikokan GS and the Thunder Bay GS, provided renewable generation when called upon to meet system requirements when utility maintenance was being conducted on a local transformer station. The Atikokan GS operated continuously from late July to early September, while the Thunder Bay GS operated as needed. To meet the increased demand for biomass fuels, OPG coordinated the acceleration of biomass fuel deliveries with suppliers while continuing to operate the plants safely.

Also, OPG reported that work continues on the Sir Adam Beck Pump hydroelectric GS reservoir refurbishment project. During the third quarter of 2016, liner installation activities were completed. All six units at the Sir Adam Beck Pump GS will remain out of service for the duration of the project, which is expected to be completed by the second quarter of 2017.

During the third quarter of 2016, major equipment overhauls and rehabilitation work was completed at Unit 2 of the Harmon hydroelectric GS, adding 7 MW of capacity.

In March 2016, OPG and its partners SunEdison Canadian Construction LP (SECCLP) and Six Nations Development Corp. were awarded a contract through the Ontario IESO’s Large Renewable Procurement (LRP I) program to develop a 44-MW solar facility at OPG’s Nanticoke GS site and adjacent lands. On Oct. 27, SECCLP applied under Canada’s Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act, which is a Canadian equivalent of bankruptcy. This follows actions taken by SECCLP’s parent, SunEdison Inc., in April of this year to seek bankruptcy protection in the U.S.

“SECCLP’s filing does not constitute a default under the LRP I contract and is not expected to impact the development schedule of the project,” wrote OPG. “The risks previously disclosed relating to partner non-performance and project development remain unchanged by SECCLP’s filing and OPG continues to implement appropriate mitigation mechanisms to limit such risks.”

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.