A successful hydroelectric project to benefit
an Ontario community

A successful hydroelectric project to benefit an Ontario community

The Sturgeon Falls generating station is an important asset for the Town of West Nipissing in Ontario. This hydroelectric generating station required major intervention to ensure the sustainability of operations and at the same time remain an important source of revenue for the municipality. Our teams provided a highly efficient technical, environmental and economic solution in an innovative EPC structure, surpassing the client’s objectives. A great showcase for our cutting-edge expertise in project management thanks to AXC Construction.

In 2018, AXC Construction, our engineering-construction subsidiary, was mandated to renovate the Sturgeon Falls hydroelectric generating station owned by the community of West Nipissing in Ontario. This generating station, built in 1912, was powered by 6 horizontal turbines (camelback or Francis type), 3 of which were at the end of their service life when the project began. The client’s objectives included increasing the generating or production capacity, reducing operations and maintenance, reducing environmental impact and effectively controlling expenses.

The plant is an important source of revenue for the municipality and its residents, especially since the closure of the pulp and paper mill that operated the facilities until 2002. We had to provide a project that would be efficient from an investment perspective and that would generate significant value for the community over the long term, with minimal impact on the current operation of the plant. In a context where Canadian hydroelectric projects face competition from other sources of renewable energy, we also had to propose a project that was technically, economically and environmentally competitive.

A tailor-made solution

Our solution therefore took the form of an overhaul of the installations with minimal impact on the civil engineering structures and the surrounding environment. Our project team developed a strategy that optimized the existing structure by decommissioning the 3 end-of-life turbines and installing 3 new vertical “Saxo” type turbines. In addition to providing better energy performance, these new 1850 mm dual-regulation turbines make it easier to solve operational maintenance problems, offer protection of the electrical components against flooding, and benefit from a high-performance automated control system.

The innovative nature of the project also lies in the entire organizational strategy that enabled our teams to meet the customer’s specific constraints. Our engineering-procurement-construction (EPC) model made it possible to intervene quickly and efficiently to guarantee minimal impact on the operation of the power plant (without shutting down). Our open-book, matrix-based management contributed to the success of a project where the turbine production, design and construction teams worked closely together, as did the client’s knowledge of the facilities. Our partners EnerAxion and Canadian Hydro Components brought their leading-edge expertise in hydroelectric equipment to the project, enabling us to deliver a technically advanced solution ahead of schedule and on budget.

We can state without a doubt that the client is very satisfied with the result obtained. West Nipissing Power Generation has become an ambassador for our firm and opens the doors of its power station to several operators who wish to proceed with similar upgrades. Moreover, thanks to this project, FNX-INNOV is in the running for two Canadian engineering competitions, and we sincerely hope to be able to promote this project within our industry.


Our success at a glance

  • Installation of 3 X 2 MW vertical axial flow turbines and generators
  • New innovative roof design for crane access
  • Turnkey package for plant automation
  • Upgrades to civil engineering structures (dewatering, flood protection and structural reinforcement)
  • Fast track mode to minimize interruption of operations
  • 13 months timeline (+1 month for commissioning) / 2 months early completion
  • Achieve and exceed the guaranteed power of 2 MW per unit
  • 33% annual increase in the plant’s electricity production
  • Cost of CAD 3.2 million/MW, or less than CAD 3 million/MW including revenues from early delivery
  • Open-book project management in EPC structure with active client participation
We can be proud of this project, which has generated value for the community of West Nipissing while demonstrating the many benefits of a well-crafted plan to upgrade hydroelectric assets at a small generating station like Sturgeon Falls. Our affiliate AXC Construction is once again proving itself as a leader in turnkey approaches from design to completion.