Ontario Power Generation Inc. plans a 15-year refurbishment of five Niagara Falls, N.Y.-area hydroelectric stations, it announced April 16. The utility says the estimated $730-million project will secure 1,700 MW of generating capacity for decades to come.

Ontario Power selected GE Vernova, the Cambridge, Mass.-based energy equipment maker recently spun off from General Electric Co., to perform the work starting next year. Frederic Ribieras, CEO of GE Vernova’s hydro power business, said in a statement that the modernization would extend the plants’ lives by more than 30 years.

“Looking at the future, it confirms a new dynamic in the hydropower industry marked by closer and longer-term collaboration to secure the supply chain and increase the productivity of the projects,” Ribieras said.

Work will involve replacing older generating units’ components, such as turbine runners, with newer designs that are more efficient and require less water to generate power, according to the firm.

The first phase of work will cover refurbishment of 25 units at the Sir Adam Beck I and II stations. The 446-MW Beck I entered service in late 1921, and the 1,499-MW Beck II is Ontario’s largest hydro station by capacity. Ontario Power says the work will increase their capacity by up to 50 MW. 

The project may also include the 174-MW Sir Adam Beck Pump, 23-MW DeCew I and 144-MW DeCew II generating stations. Along with Beck I and II, the plants together account for about 9% of Ontario energy, according to the utility. 

“Upgrading and optimizing [Ontario Power] renewable generation workhorses like the Sir Adam Beck complex is crucial to support the growing demands of electrification and a thriving economy,” said Ken Hartwick, utility president and CEO in a statement. 

All five facilities are located on the Niagara River.

Ontario Power operates a variety of hydroelectric, nuclear, natural gas, biomass and solar generating facilities in the province totaling 18,236 MW of in-service generating capacity as December 2023. It closed its last coal-fired station in 2014. 

GE Vernova, which began trading April 2 on the NY Stock Exchange under the symbol GEV, is made up of three of the former parent's businesses: Electrification, which includes its power grid and battery storage equipment and had $6.4 billion in 2023 revenue; Power, its gas, hydro, nuclear and steam technologies services, with $17.4 billion in revenue last year, and Wind, made up of manufacture of offshore and onshore wind energy turbines and rotor blades, with $9.9 billion in 2023 revenue.

Related to the spinoff, analysts at Goldman Sachs said they are "encouraged by the progress this management team has made over the last two-plus years to make GEV a structurally more profitable enterprise," adding it is "uniquely positioned to benefit as the energy transition unfolds.”  

GE Vernova will release its first quarter 2024 results on April 25.