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Ontario government endorsing $600M refurbishment plan for Cornwall power generating station


The Ontario government is providing a major boost to the refurbishment of the hydroelectric station in Cornwall.

The government says it will be supporting Ontario Power Generation's (OPG) plan to refurbish the R. H. Saunders Generating Station on the St. Lawrence River. The $600 million project would improve 16 units at the station, allowing it to produce more electricity from less water.

"Today, the station continues to safely produce up to five per cent of Ontario's electricity needs, helping us to power our homes, charge our EVs, grow our businesses, and fuel our economy, said OPG director of plant operations Scott Gagnon at a news conference on Friday. "And thanks to this refurbishment, we will continue to do this for decades to come."

The project, which OPG says began in January 2023, is expected to be completed by 2039.

"Our government's keeping our energy grid reliable. We're keeping the grid affordable. And it's one of the cleanest grids in the entire world. And we're very, very proud of that," said Energy Minister Todd Smith. "Once completely refurbished, the station will produce 1045MW. That's over a gigawatt of safe, reliable and clean electricity. In other words, that's enough to power a million homes in our province."

The R.H. Saunders Generating Station, built in 1958, is the second-largest hydro facility in the province. It is part of the larger Moses-Saunders Power Dam shared with the United States. It was last overhauled in the late 1990s and early 2000s, OPG says.

The refurbishment will include major rehabilitation of generating equipment through civil, electrical, and mechanical improvement, the government says. Once completed, the station is expected to produce up to 160 gigawatt hours of additional clean electricity each year, equivalent to powering more than 19,000 homes.

The refurbishment of the R.H. Saunders Generating Station in Cornwall, Ont. aims to improve 16 units at the station, allowing it to produce more electricity from less water. (Jack Richardson/CTV News Ottawa)

"For us personally here in Cornwall, it's more than just an employer. It's part of our community," said mayor Justin Towndale. "I myself grew up just around the corner from the dam and that's not an exaggeration. My parents still live in that house and I can tell you that we have a partnership with OPG where we're able to use parts of this property for recreational purposes, and that provides a value that's added to our community, to our residents."

The R.H. Saunders Generating Station has been a source of clean power for Ontario for 65 years, and currently meets about five per cent of the province's power needs.

The R.H. Saunders Generating Station is the second-largest hydro facility in Ontario. (OPG/submitted)

--With files from CTV News Ottawa's Jack Richardson Top Stories

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