Northwest Operations in the Community
Located in northwestern Ontario, OPG’s Northwest Operations (NWO) group operates 11 hydroelectric stations and two thermal stations for a total of 42 generating units. With a combined capacity of about 1,046 megawatts (MW), these stations provide a clean, low cost, renewable and reliable source of power to Ontarians all year round.
NWO operates our hydroelectric stations and associated water control structures on five river systems: Aguasabon, Nipigon, Kaministiquia, English and Winnipeg. The stations are fully automated and remotely controlled from our Northwest Control Centre in Thunder Bay.
Biomass is a sustainable fuel recognized across the world as beneficial to climate change mitigation. Biomass is energy produced by burning renewable organic material such as, in OPG’s case, sustainably harvested wood pellets from well-managed Canadian and Norwegian forests. Electricity generation from conventional and advanced pellets results in considerably lower GHG emissions than from coal (about 90 per cent lower) or natural gas combined cycle (about 80 per cent lower).
Atikokan GS was converted from coal to use biomass in 2014. The two-year conversion project was completed on time and on budget and is now the largest capacity 100 per cent biomass fuelled plant in North America. Visit the Atikokan Station Biomass Conversion Project page for more information.
Thunder Bay GS was converted from coal to use advanced biomass in 2015. While advance biomass has similar handling and storage characteristics to coal (it can be stored outside), it contains about 75 per cent less nitrogen oxide than coal emissions, and virtually no sulphur dioxide. Like Atikokan, the conversion was completed under budget and ahead of schedule.
The pellets OPG uses are sourced from suppliers who practice sustainable forestry. OPG awarded contracts for the wood pellets to Rentech and Resolute Forrest Products, which supplies biomass to Atikokan, and Arbaflame, which supplies biomass to Thunder Bay. More than 150 new jobs were created through the wood pellet supply for Atikokan Generating Station.
OPG supports biomass research through its sponsorship of the OPG Bioenergy Learning Research Centre at Confederation College in Thunder Bay.
The NWO group has a staff of about 300 people working in operations, engineering, maintenance, projects, water management, human resources, safety, environment, management, administrative and support roles. Staff are located throughout the region in Nipigon, Thunder Bay, Atikokan, Ear Falls and Kenora. The NWO group headquarters and the Northwest Control Centre are located in Thunder Bay.
As a proud and engaged community partner, OPG’s NWO group strives to make a difference and help improve the well-being of the communities that host our operations. We believe this is essential to being a good corporate citizen and neighbour. Through the Corporate Citizenship Program (CCP) OPG provides charitable, not-for-profit support to more than 125 grass roots community initiatives annually in Northwestern Ontario (Kenora, Ear Falls, Atikokan, Thunder Bay, Nipigon and Terrace Bay).
NWO’s community partnerships focus on the areas of:
- education and community (health and safety, arts and culture, youth amateur sport, humanitarian and local causes); as well as
- support for Indigenous initiatives.
NWO is focused on continuously improving public safety around its hydroelectric sites. The plant group has an extensive public safety education program to raise awareness about the dangers around hydroelectric facilities. NWO has installed additional signs, fencing, booms, buoys (and in some instances audible alerts and video surveillance cameras) at its stations to help the public stay clear and stay safe.
OPG’s partnerships also include programs aimed at educating the public on water safety around hydro stations and dams. To learn more, please visit OPG’s Water Safety page.
Your community contact is:
807-346-3900 ext. 5334