The largest hydroelectric project in Northern Ontario, Canada, for 50 years has been completed ahead of time and on budget, Ontario Power Generation (OPG) has announced.

Six units are now online at the 438MW project on the Lower Mattagami River. The project went into service ahead of schedule thanks to OPG’s unique partnership with the Moose Cree First Nation, the utility said in a statement.

"This one-of-a-kind success story illustrates the power of partnership, a shared vision and solid project management," said OPG President and CEO Tom Mitchell. "I’m very proud of the many workers, contractors, our Moose Cree partners and OPG employees for their incredible efforts. Successfully completing a project of this magnitude happens because good, skilled people dedicate themselves to getting the job done right."

The $2.6 billion Lower Mattagami Project involved redeveloping four of OPG’s existing hydro stations on the Mattagami River. The stations are located about 70km north of Kapuskasing. The Smoky Falls station went into service in 1931, Little Long in 1963, Harmon in 1965, and Kipling in 1966. Smoky Falls was replaced with a new three-unit station built alongside the old station. A third unit was added to each of the other plants.

Under the terms of the partnership with Moose Cree, the First Nation will own a 25% equity stake in the project. Moose Cree businesses have also been awarded over $300 million worth of sub- contracts since the project began four years ago.

"The project has helped rejuvenate the Moose Cree community and given our economy a much-needed boost," said Moose Cree First Nation Chief Norm Hardisty Jr. "Many of our members will be able to use the training and new skills they developed to work on other infrastructure projects."

Image: view of the Smoky Falls tailrace.