Ontario unveils TBM for new tunnel at 2,000-MW Beck

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty helped unveil “Big Becky,” a tunnel-boring machine that will dig a new 10.4-kilometer power tunnel for Ontario Power Generation’s 2,000-MW Sir Adam Beck generating complex at Niagara Falls.

“A clean, reliable and sustainable energy supply is key to our economic growth — our very way of life,” McGuinty said Aug. 8. “By creating the Niagara Tunnel, we’re increasing our province’s power supply, strengthening our prosperity and building opportunity for Ontario families.”

Tunnel work is to start in September with the help of 2,000-ton “Big Becky,” which the government called the largest hard rock tunnel-boring machine ever built. Students at a school in St. Catharines, Ontario, won a contest to name the machine, which will bore the tunnel at a depth of up to 140 meters beneath the city of Niagara Falls.

The tunnel will supply additional water from the Niagara River above Niagara Falls to the Beck complex, boosting generation of the existing turbines. It is to be completed by 2009, and increase annual generation by 1.6 terawatt-hours, the government said.

The province is investing C$985 million (US$878 million) in the tunnel. A contractor named in 2005, Strabag AG of Austria, is responsible for designing and building the tunnel. The project will create about 230 full-time construction jobs, which could increase to 350 jobs at times over the three years.

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