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Niagara Tunnel Completion Important Piece for Ontario's Hydroelectric Power Supply

The Ontario government is celebrating following the completion of the Niagara Tunnel Project, which will direct water to the province's 2,000-MW Sir Adam Beck hydropower plant.

The 10-kilometer-long tunnel measures four stories tall and is lined with 60 cm of cast-in-place concrete, allowing water to flow through the Niagara Tunnel at a rate of more than 500 cubic feet per second.

"This project is a source of pride as an engineering feat and as a practical solution for meeting Ontario's energy needs through clean sources," said Minister of Energy Bob Chiarelli. "The completion of this project will provide Ontario with a source of clean energy for the next 100 years."

The US$1.6 billion project was supposed to have been completed four years ago and over budget by about $615 million due to unexpectedly difficult digging conditions and redesigns of the tunnel.

Still, the tunnel's owner, Ontario Power Corporation, said the time and expense will be worth it.

"This was a large, complex project that will serve Ontario for more than 100 years," OPG President and CEO Tom Mitchell said.

The Niagara Tunnel and Sir Adam Beck hydropower project are both integral parts of Ontario's efforts to wean itself off coal-fired generating projects.

HydroWorld.com reported in May 2012 that Strabag -- the project design/build contractor -- had broken through at the tunnel site.

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