Keeyask generating station supplies power for the first time
On February 16, at 2:55 p.m., the first of seven generating units at Keeyask was brought into service and is now connected to the Manitoba Hydro power grid, supplying electricity to all our customers – domestic and cross-border.
“I am very proud of our Keeyask team and everyone that had a hand in reaching this goal, all of us should be,” said Lorne Midford, Manitoba Hydro’s vice-president of Asset Planning & Delivery. “Keeyask will supply renewable and reliable power for many decades, and it is a testament to the team effort and the sacrifices so many people have made.”
Since signing the Joint Keeyask Development Agreement in 2009, which officially launched the project, thousands of people have worked continuously to reach this milestone.
Partnering with four First Nations – Tataskweyak Cree Nation, War Lake First Nation, York Factory First Nation, and Fox Lake Cree Nation – Manitoba Hydro organized and managed labour and resources from Manitoba, across Canada, and internationally to reach the point where when our customers turn on a light switch, they can say that some of that electricity is coming from Keeyask.
This milestone was achieved ahead of schedule (current schedule for first unit in-service was for August 2021) despite challenges presented throughout last year by the global COVID-19 pandemic.
For example, in March 2020, travel in and out of site was suspended for around eight weeks. Approximately 700 workers (half of the 1,400 workers at the time) volunteered to remain at Keeyask for the duration and continue the work. By the time the travel suspension ended, some individuals had been working at Keeyask seven days a week for three months or more.
In order to truly grasp the scale of constructing a megaproject like Keeyask – and to put the milestone into perspective – it took approximately 32,600,000 person-hours of labour to reach this point in the construction.
“This is really a product of all the people – from organizations to communities to individuals – who came together to reach this goal,” said Dave Bowen, Keeyask project director. “It took hard work and perseverance to tackle and overcome multiple challenges, and yes, there were personal sacrifices. This milestone has come with profound changes to the lands and waters near the Keeyask site and has affected those who have traditionally used this area. That is what makes this milestone so significant. We are creating a legacy.”
The Keeyask generating station is located 30 kilometres (18 miles) west of Gillam on the Nelson River in northern Manitoba. When complete, the generating station will deliver 695 megawatts and 4.4 terawatt-hours into the Manitoba Hydro system, making it the fourth largest generating station in Manitoba, bolstering Hydro’s supply and permanently adding to its export capacity.
Keeyask is a collaborative effort between Manitoba Hydro and four partner First Nations: Tataskweyak Cree Nation, War Lake First Nation, York Factory First Nation, and Fox Lake Cree Nation – known collectively as the Keeyask Hydropower Limited Partnership.