Ontario Power Generation

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Ontario Power Generation
Crown corporation
Industry Electricity generation
Founded 1999
Headquarters Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Key people
Jeff Lyash – President & CEO; Bernard Lord – Chair
Products Electricity
Revenue Increase $4.73 billion CAD (2012)[1]
Number of employees
10,840 (2012)
Website www.opg.com
OPG's head office in downtown Toronto
A Mitsubishi i-MiEV from the 2011 Montreal International Auto Show showing the hydro companies of Canada for Ontario Power Generation, Hydro-Québec, BC Hydro & others.

Ontario Power Generation (OPG) is a public company wholly owned by Government of Ontario.[2] OPG is responsible for approximately 50% of the electricity generation in the Province of Ontario, Canada.[3] Sources of electricity include nuclear, hydroelectric, wind, gas and biomass. Although Ontario has an open electricity market, the provincial government, as OPG's sole shareholder, regulates the price the company receives for its electricity to be less than the market average, in an attempt to stabilize prices. Since 1 April 2008, the company's rates have been regulated by the Ontario Energy Board.


OPG was established in April 1999 under the Ontario Progressive Conservative government of premier Mike Harris as a precursor to deregulation of the province's electricity market. As part of government plans to privatize the assets of Ontario Hydro, the utility was split into five separate corporations. OPG was created as the owner and operator of all of Ontario Hydro's electricity generating stations.

Board of Directors[edit]

Bernard Lord is Chairman of the Board of Directors. He was appointed as Chairman on 1 April 2014.[4]

Jeff Lyash is the President and Chief Executive Officer of OPG. He was appointed to this position on 21 August 2015, when the previous President and CEO, Tom Mitchell retired.

Other current members of the Board include William A. Coley, John Herron, Roberta L. Jamieson, M. George Lewis, Peggy Mulligan, Gerry Phillips, Lisa DeMarco, Brendan Hawley, Ira Kagan and Nicole Boivin.[5]


The financial situation at Ontario Power Generation has improved significantly since 2003. Its profits for 2005 were $366 million, and its credit rating was upgraded. In July 2006, Liberal Energy Minister Dwight Duncan described OPG's turnaround as "[o]ne of the untold stories of the last two years"[6]

On the local public relations side, OPG has won many awards for its performance as a "good corporate citizen".[7] Most recently, OPG was named "Business of the Year" by the Kincardine and District Chamber of Commerce. OPG regularly sponsors community events and houses wildlife trails in the exclusion zones around its reactors. The company's annual employee charity campaign has raised millions of dollars for charities across Ontario. In October 2008, OPG was named one of "Canada's Top 100 Employers" by Mediacorp Canada Inc., and was featured in Maclean's newsmagazine. Later that month, OPG was also named one of Greater Toronto's Top Employers, which was announced by the Toronto Star newspaper.[8]

OPG regularly reports on its operational, safety and environmental record. The company publishes semi-annual Performance Reports summarizing its performance in these areas.

Nuclear power[edit]

OPG is the owner of two nuclear power plants[9] with responsibility for operating the Pickering A, Pickering B, and Darlington nuclear generating stations in Ontario. OPG owns a nuclear power site on Lake Huron in western Ontario and leases the Bruce site to Bruce Power which owns eight nuclear reactors in that location.[10] OPG owns two other nuclear stations on Lake Huron which are leased to Bruce Power which is responsible for their operation. The lease is for 18 years (until 2019) with an option to extend a further 25 years (to 2044).[11] Bruce Power as the leaseholder is responsible for refurbishing of the reactors and has completed two which were mothballed earlier. They now plan to refurbish the remaining six reactors.[12] by a partnership[13] (TransCanada Corp., Borealis Infrastructure, a trust established by the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System, The Power Workers’ Union and The Society of Energy Professionals; over 90% of employees also own shares in the company).

OPG also operates three facilities for the interim management of nuclear waste generated by OPG’s 10 nuclear reactors and Bruce Power’s eight nuclear reactors.[14] The company is proposing to construct and operate a deep geologic repository on the Bruce Nuclear site, adjacent to its present Western Waste Management Facility. The repository would provide permanent storage of low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste produced from the operation of the Bruce, Pickering, and Darlington nuclear generating stations. In 2005, OPG initiated the regulatory approval process. The first steps are a comprehensive environmental assessment by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA),[15] and an application for a site preparation and construction licence from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.

OPG has also begun the process of building up to four new nuclear units at the site of its Darlington Nuclear Station. There is a lengthy approvals process in place, including a full environmental assessment which will take 3–4 years to complete. If everything goes well, the new units would go into service starting in 2018. No decision has yet been made on what technology the new reactors will use.

After conducting studies to determine the feasibility of refurbishing the four reactors at the Pickering B nuclear generating station, in February 2010 an announcement was made that they would be kept in good repair until 2020 but would not undergo a full refurbishment as it would not be economical. The four reactors at Pickering B represent over 2,000 megawatts of generating capacity. The two operating reactors at Pickering A will also close in 2020. The four reactors at Darlington will be refurbished as their performance and size makes this economically desirable.[16]

Alternative energy[edit]

OPG owns and operates or contracts some limited alternative electricity generation through two wind power sites and two solar power sites. The company has not expanded either significantly, since the provincial government prefers not to compete with private enterprise companies in the potentially lucrative environmentally friendly power market. Ontario now has many privately owned wind farms, including one very close to the Bruce Power nuclear site, as well as over 70 large solar farms[17] and these sell electricity to OPG and directly to some public utilities.[18] By 2014, OPG had stopped burning traditional coal,[19] converting two stations to burning biomass and closing one coal-fired site. The company is proud of its achievements in reducing pollution. "Now, together with a diverse fleet that includes 65 hydroelectric stations and two nuclear stations, OPG’s power is 99.7 per cent free of smog and greenhouse gas emissions."[20]

Thermal electricity-generating stations were traditionally coal-fired, creating problems caused by pollution. The Nanticoke Generating Station, on Lake Erie in Haldimand County, Ontario, stopped burning coal in 2013 and remained idle until 2015. At that time, the plant was closed because it was not considered to be economically viable to convert it to using natural gas or biomass.[21] However, OPG did convert two other power plants. The one in Atikokan, Ontario was converted in 2012 to burning steam treated wood pellets or biocoal, referred to as a type of biomass by OPG. "Biomass wood pellets are a sustainable fuel recognized as beneficial to climate change mitigation, as identified in the Biomass Sustainability Analysis Report by the Pembina Institute," according to OPG.[22] The company says that this generating station is "North America's largest 100 per cent biomass-fueled power plant".[23] Another thermal electricity generating station, at Thunder Bay, ON, was converted to using "advanced" biomass in 2014. "It is a solid biomass fuel ... has higher energy density and is hydrophobic (repels water) allowing it withstand the elements while being stored outside," according to OPG.[24]

Controversies and criticism[edit]

OPG attracted considerable controversy for the operation of coal-fired generating stations, which ranked among Canada's largest individual air pollution sources.[citation needed] This was mostly because Nanticoke housed a massive 3,900 MW of generation capacity in one site: it produced "the most pollution in one site" despite being a reasonably clean plant per megawatt of power.[25] Nanticoke Generating Station was North America's largest coal-fired generating station and the single largest air pollution source for southern Ontario and northern New York state, attracting considerable criticism from environmentalists and legislators in both jurisdictions. OPG's Lambton Generating Station was the second largest air polluter in the province. The Liberal government of Dalton McGuinty came to power in 2003 with a promise to phase out coal generation by 2007.[26] However, for various operational and demand reasons this was not possible until 2014, when the last coal was burned in OPG's stations.

The company also endured significant criticism concerning the slow return to operation of some of its nuclear generating stations which had been shut down by the 2003 North America blackout. The problem was that all but one of the reactors were tripped and allowed to poison out, preventing an early reconnection to the electricity grid. Once shut down, all nuclear reactors take several days to return to service.

Another source of criticism was the extended and expensive refit to the reactor Unit 4 at the Pickering A Nuclear Station. In late 2003, the incoming Liberal government fired the three most senior executives at OPG on the heels of a report that the retrofit of a single reactor at the Pickering nuclear plant had come in $900 million over budget and three years behind schedule. The government also accepted the resignation of all remaining Board members. Management underestimated the amount of work and complexity of the Unit 4 refurbishment project and failed to do a complete scope analysis before starting on the project.[citation needed] Due to the uproar over the large cost overruns and delays, an independent review committee was commissioned to examine the future role of OPG in the electricity sector; the future structure of OPG; the appropriate corporate governance and senior management structure; and the potential refurbishing of Pickering A Units 1, 2, and 3. Former federal Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister John Manley chaired the review committee. Peter Godsoe, Chairman of the Bank of Nova Scotia, and Jake Epp, a former federal Cabinet Minister, Chair of the Pickering A Review Panel, and interim Chairman of OPG, also sat on the committee.[27]

The experience of refurbishing Pickering A Unit 1 was significantly different with a much tighter adherence to schedule and budget. Unit 1 was returned to service in November 2005 providing 542 MW of generating capacity for Ontario's electricity system. It was decided that Pickering Units 2 and 3, which had considerably larger maintenance issues, would not be restarted as the business case could not be made.

In early December 2015, Ontario's Auditor general pointed out that OPG was importing wood products from Europe to burn at the Thunder Bay station "pushing the cost of the electricity it generates to 25 times higher than other biomass generators",[28] or $1,600 per MWh. Subsequently, Ontario's Development and Mines Minister Michael Gravelle stated that OPG was seeking a local company to produce the biomass fuel.[29]

Considering the ever-increasing cost of electricity to Ontario consumers, the hiring of CEO Jeffrey Lyash in the summer of 2015 created some criticism when it was revealed that Lyash would earn $775,000 per annum and that could increase to $1.55 million with bonuses if performance targets are met.[30]

Head office[edit]

Power plants[edit]

The 1045-MW R. H. Saunders Generating Station, on the Saint Lawrence River.
The old water mill at Decew Falls

OPG owns and operates generating plants that draw from three main power sources: nuclear, hydro-electric, and fossil fuels, plus some minor output from wind and biomass. In 2012, it generated about 60 per cent of the electricity in Ontario or 83.7 terawatt hours (TWh).

OPG power stations — capacity and output (2012)[31]
Source Stations Capacity (MW) 2012 output (TWh)
Nuclear 2 6,606 49.0
Hydroelectric 65 6,996 39.6
Thermal 5 5,447 4.1
Total 72 19,049 83.7

The Bruce Nuclear Generating Station is the largest nuclear generating station in the world by net electrical power rating, total reactor count, and number of operational reactors. Roughly 60% of Ontario's electricity is accounted for by three nuclear power plants: Pickering, Darlington and Bruce. No fatal accidents related to nuclear power have occurred in Ontario.

OPG power stations
Nuclear Hydro-electric Fossil fuel Other



Altogether there are 29 plants producing 127 MW of power.

  • Atikokan (211 MW coal; being converted to biomass)
  • Lambton (950 MW coal); closed
  • Nanticoke (2.760 GW[33] coal) – The largest coal-fired power plant in North America, now closed with two units retained in storage for possible conversion.
  • Thunder Bay (303 MW coal; being converted to biomass) – Thunder Bay, Ontario;
  • Lennox (2.140 GW oil/natural gas)



  • 3 wind turbines (2 at Bruce and 1 at Pickering (7 MW))
  • 2 biomass plants (6 MW)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ OPG Annual Report 2012
  2. ^ OPG Annual Report, 2009
  3. ^ Ontario Power Generation
  4. ^ "Strengthening Ontario Energy Agency Board Governance Government Appoints New Chairs to Hydro One and OPG", Ministry of Energy news release, 7 March 2014. Accessed 1 May 2014
  5. ^ "New and Returning Board Members for Ontario Power Generation and Hydro One", Ministry of Energy news release, 25 April 2014. Accessed 1 May 2014
  6. ^ Ian Urquhart, "A successful turnaround at Ontario Power Generation", Guelph Mercury, 19 July 2006, A12.
  7. ^ Ontario Power Generation awards
  8. ^ "Reasons for Selection, 2009 Canada's Top 100 Employers Competition". 
  9. ^ no by-line.--> (2015). "OPG - About Us". Ontario Power Generation. Ontario Power Generation. Retrieved 4 December 2015. 
  10. ^ Nuclear Power in Canada. World Nuclear Association. December 2015 http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Country-Profiles/Countries-A-F/Canada--Nuclear-Power/. Retrieved December 5, 2015.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  11. ^ "Bruce A Refurbishment". Bruce Power (Golder Associates). December 2004 (revision 1). Retrieved 22 March 2011.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  12. ^ Benzie, Robert (3 December 2015). "Bruce Power to invest $13 billion to refurbish nuclear station on Lake Huron". Toronto Star (Toronto, Canada). Retrieved 4 December 2015. 
  13. ^ no by-line.--> (2015). "Bruce Power - About Us". Bruce Power. Bruce Power. Retrieved 4 December 2015. 
  14. ^ "NUCLEAR WASTE MANAGEMENT". Ontario Power Generation. Ontario Power Generation Inc. 2015. Retrieved December 5, 2015. 
  15. ^ CEAA Home Page
  16. ^ OPG News Release "OPG Moves to Planning Phase of Darlington Refurbishment" and "Pickering B to Enter Final Decade of Operation with $300-Million Investment" 16 February 2010
  17. ^ Blackwell, Richard (July 26, 2014). "Solar power surging to forefront of Canadian energy". Globe and Mail (Toronto, Canada). Retrieved December 5, 2015. 
  18. ^ Memorandum of Agreement between the Crown and Ontario Power Generation, 17 August 2005
  19. ^ http://www.opg.com/news-and-media/news-releases/Documents/20151021_National%20Bioenergy%20Day.pdf
  20. ^ "Generating Power". OPG. OPG. 2015. 
  21. ^ Sonnenberg, Monte (July 15, 2015). Simcoe Reformer (Simcoe, ON) http://www.simcoereformer.ca/2015/07/15/opg-rejects-natural-gas-biomass-option-for-nanticoke-generating-station. Retrieved December 5, 2015.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  22. ^ "Atikokan Station Biomass Conversion Project". OPG. OPG. 2015. Retrieved December 5, 2015. 
  23. ^ "Atikokan Generating Station". OPG. OPG. 2015. Retrieved December 5, 2015. 
  24. ^ "Thunder Bay Generating Station". OPG. OPG. 2015. Retrieved December 5, 2015. 
  25. ^ The Globe and Mail
  26. ^ Four more Ontario coal-fired generating units shut down, Toronto Star October, 1 2010
  27. ^ http://cna.ca/english/pdf/Studies/Transforming%20Ontario's%20Power%20Generation%20Company_04/OPG_Review_complete_e.pdf
  28. ^ Leslie, Keith (December 2, 2015). "Ontario auditor finds hydro consumers pay billions extra for Liberal's decisions". CTV News. Bell Media. Retrieved December 5, 2015. 
  29. ^ Ferguson, Ross (December 3, 2015). "Ontario Liberals politically motivated in converting plant to biomass fuel, says PC leader". Toronto Star. Toronto Star. Retrieved December 5, 2015. 
  30. ^ Ferguson, Rob (July 22, 2015). "Ontario Power Generation's new CEO earning $775K". Toronto Star (Toronto, Canada). Retrieved December 5, 2015. 
  31. ^ "Power Generation". OPG. 
  32. ^ Jointly owned by Ontario Power Generation and Hydro-Québec
  33. ^ http://www.opg.com/power/thermal/brochures/nanticokebrochure.pdf

External links[edit]