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DeCew I Generating Station

DeCew I Generating Station

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An aerial photo of a hydroelectric station

DeCew I Generating Station


DRAINAGE BASIN: Lake Erie
RIVER: Welland
NEAREST POPULATION CENTRE: St. Catharines (6.4 km east)
IN SERVICE DATE: Aug. 25,1898
ACQUIRED BY HYDRO-ELECTRIC POWER COMMISSION OF ONTARIO: Aug. 14, 1930
FROM: Dominion Power and Transmission Company
ASSET TRANSFERRED TO ONTARIO POWER GENERATION: April 1, 1999
NUMBER OF UNITS: 5
CAPACITY:  23 MW
CONTROL: Remote from Sir Adam Beck II GS

DeCew I Generating Station (GS) is a five-unit hydroelectric power station located on the Welland River not far from St. Catharines, Ontario. The station generates 23 megawatts of clean, renewable electricity, which is enough power for about 20,000 homes.

The station gets its name from John DeCew (also spelled DeCou, DeCow or Du Coo), a pioneer settler who built DeCew House, the two-story limestone structure used by the British army during the War of 1812. The house was the famous destination of Laura Secord’s historic journey to warn British commander Lieutenant James FitzGibbon of an impending attack by the Americans. After the war, John Decew restored and developed this property, and the area became known as the Hamlet of Decew Town (now DeCew Falls).

In 1886, the transmission of electricity over long distances for commercial purposes was still in much of an experimental stage. Nevertheless, after numerous surveys and the examinations into the physical feasibility of using DeCew Falls, a scheme was developed to generate electrical energy. As a result of this scheme, John Patterson, the Hon. J.M. Gibson, John Moodie, James Dixon and J.W. Sutherland formed the Cataract Power Company of Hamilton Ltd. for the purposes of developing this power and transmitting it 56 km to the city of Hamilton.

After securing the water lease, on Dec. 8, 1897, Cataract Power contracted the Royal Electric Company of Montreal to undertake the electrical engineering and design of the plant, referred to then as the Power Glen station.

In 1942, the Hydro-Electric Power Commission of Ontario acquired the DeCew House property, after which much of the surrounding land was flooded to create Lake Gibson, a reservoir used to produce power at DeCew I GS. The DeCew house was declared an historic site in 1953 by Hon. Leslie M. Frost, Prime Minister of Ontario, at a ceremony with Hydro Commission Chairman Robert H. Saunders.

As with the operations at all of our generating stations, OPG is considerate of the environment and other users of the waterways. Our technicians manage water levels and flows according to approved water management plans. The amount of water available for generation depends on environmental needs, minimum and maximum water level requirements, and precipitation.

DeCew I GS generates clean, renewable electricity 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and is part of OPG’s clean energy portfolio, which is more than 99 per cent free of smog and carbon emissions.