Bay d’Espoir Generating Facility: 50th Anniversary

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the commissioning of the Bay d’Espoir Hydroelectric Generating Facility and the first step toward rural electrification of Newfoundland.

Fifty years ago, on August 15, 1967, the Honourable Joseph R. Smallwood, then premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, officially opened the generating plant in Bay d’Espoir. This facility was constructed to provide the island of Newfoundland with a large source of low-cost hydroelectric power.

Previously, only about half the households on the island had electricity from private utilities. In rural areas, only about 26 percent of households had electricity.

The commissioning of the Bay d’Espoir plant created a unified power grid, powered new economic growth, and attracted  industrial development on the island.

Three Stages

The Bay d’Espoir Hydroelectric Generating Facility was built in three stages over a 12 year period. Stage one, which included four generating units and produced 300 MW of power, was projected to provide power for the island until at least 1978.

With the rapid growth of industry in the province, an additional two  generating units and 150 MW were added to the plant in 1970.

The final generating unit was built and commissioned in 1977, adding an additional 150 MW of power to the facility.

Aside from the hydroelectric plant itself, 832 km of high-voltage transmission lines were built (running east to west) connecting St. John’s, Bay d’Espoir, Grand Falls, Corner Brook and Stephenville. This formed the backbone of the provincial electricity grid, allowing distribution of power and played a key role in rural electrification efforts.

Today

Bay d’Espoir remains a key part of our energy infrastructure as Hydro continue to improve and develop our electricity resources for future generations.

The Bay d’Espoir system today is comprised of a string of reservoirs, which connected together extend over 150 km, starting at Victoria Lake, near the road to Burgeo, and running to Long Pond in Bay d’Espoir.

The system has a generating capacity of more than 600 MW of power which is produced from the seven generating units at the Bay d’Espoir Hydroelectric Generating Facility, in addition to the hydroelectric facilities at Upper Salmon and Granite Canal.

Combined, these three hydroelectric generating plants provide almost 75 per cent of the hydroelectric power generated on the island.

Community

Since it was commissioned, this plant has been a big part of the Bay d’Espoir region. Hydro employees work and live in the area and have been involved with countless community organizations and events over the years.

Almost 100 people work at the plant every day providing the power that serves hundreds of thousands of people across Newfoundland.

Hydro will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Bay d’Espoir Hydroelectric Generating Facility with the community, employees and retirees with planned events over the coming months.

From the Archives

Paper on the Bay D’ Espoir development presented to the Canadian Electricity Association in Montreal on March 13, 1972. Read it here: CEA 1972

To see more photos, watch our slideshow.