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company in many years and will be complete and operating by the end of 2008, adding 12.5 megawatts of power to the system. “One of the fi rst realities that hit us,” Murphy says, “was the fact that we needed to obtain the agreement of the Lac Seul First Nation, who unfortunately had been treated badly when the fi rst plant was built at Ear Falls in the 1920s. Three additional units were added from 1937 to 1948, so we fi rst had to rectify those past grievances by sitting down with the First Nation and discussing their issues. We came up with a fair and reasonable, mutual solution. Once the past was behind us, we looked forward at the future opportunities.” The key for both sides, he says, was realizing that since a hydro plant has a life of about a century, forging a solid relationship was paramount. The solution was a commercial relationship with the First Nation. “We’ve been working hard to determine the logistics of how we forge the framework for that relationship, and we’ve had strong support from the First Nation, which has enlisted the assistance of technical and fi nancial advisors.” OPG also has a number of other hydro projects that it’s focusing on at the moment, and its mandate is to place a priority on hydroelectric projects—although it’s also considering new nuclear plant construction and other generation partnership opportunities—and the vast majority of signifi cant new hydro projects will most certainly be in northern Ontario, so the First Nations’ issues will always be front and center. Murphy says, “We need to do the fundamentals, going back to basics, building good, strong, healthy relationships with Aboriginal communities. So we’ve begun the outreach, getting to know their communities better than we have before, partnering on various issues that are important to them. We think we’ve cleared up all the negative matters from the past, and we’re working actively on looking at future opportunities with these First Nations. We know it’s diffi cult from their perspective when a proponent comes along and says he’s got a great idea that involves building a dam or diverting a river; there are obvious effects on the environment. We realize it’s important to forge a good relationship early in the process, then explore, share and build together for the best mutual opportunities.” May 08 49 rock tunnel-boring machine in the world; to date they’ve drilled almost 2 km (1.24 miles). The project is expected to increase the energy output of the Beck plants by about 14 percent—an additional 1.6 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity per year for at least the next century, enough to power an additional 160,000 homes. It is expected to cost $985 million (Canadian). “It’s an exciting project because of the size and scope,” Murphy says. “It’s also an environmentally sensitive location for such an endeavor, so we had to be meticulous, clever and innovative. We had close interaction with the city to ensure that we wouldn’t disrupt the tourism on which it heavily depends.” A project like the tunnel is not a core competency of OPG, he points out, so the corporation’s approach—in addition to using a request for proposal bid process to fi nd the right tunnel builder with global expertise—was writing a fi xed price, design-build construction contract with STRABAG that transferred most of the construction risks to the contractor. “This protects OPG’s interest as well as its ratepayers, by extension,” says Murphy. “It differs from the previous Ontario Hydro model, where all the risk was carried by the utility.” Another OPG project, currently underway in northern Ontario at Lac Seul, is the fi rst hydroelectric generating plant built by the OntarioPowerGeneration Geo-Foundations Contractors Inc. has been providing specialized grouting and high-capacity anchoring services to Ontario Power Generation and other power utilities throughout Canada since 2001. As a geotechnical contracting fi rm focused on the implementation and development of advanced technologies in geotechnical construction, Geo-Foundations specializes in design-build solutions for foundation support, ground improvement and ground treatment. Geo-Foundations Contractors