Ontario Power Generation is gearing up to start refurbishing the first of four units at the Darlington nuclear generating station.
It’s a massive project that has involved a lot of training, planning, 8,800 jobs and a $12.8-billion investment.
OPG president and CEO, Jeff Lyash, was on hand Friday, May 6 at the Darlington Information Centre to take part in a panel discussion set up by the Clarington Board of Trade and the Ontario Chamber of Commerce to talk about the economic benefits the refurbishment project will have for Durham Region.
Mr. Lyash said OPG has a goal to complete the project on time and under budget.
“We’re starting right now to train qualified workers,” explained Mr. Lyash. “We’ve run every work process and done time trials so we know the schedule.”
Inside the new OPG Energy Complex is a 65,000-square-foot practice space that allows workers to train on an exact replica of the Darlington unit.
“We plan to significantly expand our workforce,” said Deitmar Reiner, senior vice-president of nuclear projects at OPG. “There are plans to broaden the list of local companies doing work with us.”
Currently, there are a half dozen Clarington business involved with the project.
“This project is fantastic news for our area, not only for the direct jobs but for the spinoff jobs also,” said Sheila Hall, executive director of CBOT. “We are making sure through our energy summit and vendor fairs that it allows more local business to be involved.”
The Darlington refurbishment project is expected to boost Ontario’s GDP by a total of $14.9 billion. It will add an estimated 8,800 jobs on average for the duration of the project which is slated to be completed in 2026.
“For Durham, the nuclear sector is essential for economic success. There has been growth and there will be even more jobs,” said Conservative Durham MP, Erin O’Toole. “The next decade will be Durham’s decade.”
In fact, three of the top 100 infrastructure projects in Canada are taking place in Clarington.
That’s something Clarington Mayor Adrian Foster said is good news for the municipality’s economy.
“There will be more people coming to work here. If they’re not moving here, they’re buying lunch, gas, getting haircuts, all of this helps to stir things up our economy in a good way.”