Celebrating 50 years of reliable power from the Bay d’Espoir Hydroelectric Generating Plant

August 15th, 2017

St. John’s, NL – 50 years ago today in 1967, the hydroelectric generating plant at Bay d’Espoir was officially commissioned, marking a major step toward electrification of rural Newfoundland and changing the provincial electricity landscape.

Prior to the Bay d’Espoir development, only about half of the households on the island had electricity. In rural areas, only about a quarter of all 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.

“For 50 years, the Bay d’Espoir plant has generated reliable power that serves hundreds of thousands of people across the island each day,” said Jim Haynes, President of Hydro. “Today, Bay d’Espoir remains a key part of our energy infrastructure as we continue to improve and develop our electricity resources for future generations.”

The Bay d’Espoir facility was built in three stages. The first stage included four generating units and produced approximately 300 MW of power. It took approximately three years to complete the first phase, and the remaining stages were completed within 12 years.

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

Through the years, the plant expanded to meet growing electricity needs on the island. Today the plant has seven units and the Bay d’Espoir system has a generating capacity of more than 600 MW of power, in addition to the hydroelectric facilities at Upper Salmon and Granite Canal. Combined, these three generating plants provide almost 75 per cent of the clean, renewable hydroelectric power generated on the island.

Additional information about the history, construction and operation of the Bay d’Espoir plant is available here. Video footage from the official commissioning event in 1967 is available on our YouTube channel here.


Quick Facts:

  • First power flowed from the plant in May 1967, with the first four units being fully available in August of that year.
  • The Bay d’Espoir plant was officially commissioned on August 15, 1967, by then premier, the Honourable Joseph R. Smallwood.
  • The first stage of the Bay d’Espoir project employed about 1,800 people and took close to three years to complete.
  • 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 seventh and final unit was built and commissioned in 1977, adding another 150 MW of power to the facility.

Media Contact:

Jill Pitcher
Senior Communications Advisor, Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro
t. 709.737.1219 / c. 709.689.9938 e.