Chaudière Falls

Chaudière Falls

Less than 1.5 kilometres away from the Parliament of Canada and Ottawa’s downtown core, Energy Ottawa owns and operates six run-of-the-river hydroelectric facilities and is in the process of acquiring a seventh station located in Gatineau.

Generating Station No. 2

Generating Station No. 2, commissioned by E.H. Bronson in 1891 during the lumber boom, is a heritage-designated building and Canada’s oldest surviving hydroelectric facility still in operation.

When it first opened, it consisted of three units with a total installed capacity of 5 megawatts (MW) and an average annual energy output of approximately 36.5 GWh.

By early 2000, the station required constant maintenance and was still operated manually by eight employees. At a time of rapid industry change, the plant was becoming unprofitable and facing an uncertain future.

A feasibility study recommended that it be renovated to increase its generating capacity from 5 MW to 8 MW.

Chaudière Falls Generating Station No. 2 – The Trash Rack

In 2001, the station was completely refurbished.

  • All of the generators were rewound,
  • Turbines were replaced,
  • Channels and dam structures were rehabilitated.
  • A state-of-the-art automated monitoring system was also installed, reducing maintenance costs.
  • Computerized sensors now monitor all aspects of the operation, with control from a nearby office.

However, all of the heritage elements of the station were preserved – the original dials, meters and switches are still in the building – leaving the equipment looking the same as it did 100 years ago.

Once this process was completed, the station’s annual energy output increased by 64% (from 36.5 GWh to 60 GWh). With this increase in output and the elimination of staff through automation, the long term viability of the station was restored.

Generating Station No. 4

Commissioned in 1900, Generating Station No.4 originally consisted of two units with total installed capacity of 7 MW and an annual average energy output of 50 GWh.

Similar to No. 2 generating station, it faced many of the same ageing equipment issues and was completely rebuilt and expanded in 2005. This renovation increased its generating capacity from 7 to 8 MW, and its energy output by 20%, from 50 GWh to 60 GWh.

Overall, the refurbished stations now achieve the most efficient use of water resources, reduce maintenance costs, and improve reliability and safety.

The Grinder Powerhouse

In 2007, Energy Ottawa added a third generating station at Chaudière Falls – the Grinder Powerhouse.

Located at the former site of the Bronson Pulp Mill – where pulp word was ground for making paper products – the Grinder added 0.7 MW of generation to Energy Ottawa’s portfolio.

The silver boxed-shaped station uses an innovative technology that is similar to a reverse-operating pump to generate energy, and it’s the first time this technology has been used at a scale of 700 kilowatts or more.

In 2012, Energy Ottawa signed a purchase and sale agreement to acquire three additional hydroelectric plants, and a 38.3 percent interest in the Ring Dam and remaining water rights at Chaudière Falls, from Domtar Corporation.

Gatineau Station

Built in 1912, the Gatineau facility has a total installed capacity of 12 MW and average annual energy output of approximately 81 GWhs.

Although it has been well maintained over the years, its equipment is now approaching the end of its life.

Energy Ottawa is planning a rehabilitation process that would include replacing turbines, rewinding or replacing generators, building a new electrical room, and automating the equipment.

Studies have shown that upon completion of this rehabilitation process, the effective generating capacity would increase from 12 MW to 14 MW and the annual energy output would increase from 81 GWh to 91.6 GWh.

Ottawa Stations

Built in 1918, the Ottawa facilities have a total installed capacity of 9.2 MW and an average energy output of approximately 64 GWhs.

Built in 1918, the Ottawa facilities have a total installed capacity of 9.2 MW and an average energy output of approximately 64 GWhs.

Similar to the Gatineau station, their equipment was approaching the end of its life.

After investigating several alternatives, the decision was made to shut down these facilities and replace them with a new 29 MW power plant located, adjacent to the existing facilities. Scheduled to be completed in 2017, the new below-ground hydroelectric station will feed into the provincial grid and power 20,000 homes with clean renewable energy every year.

Hull 2

In June 2016 Hydro Ottawa entered into a purchase and sale agreement with Hydro-Québec to acquire the remaining 33% interest in the Ottawa River Ring Dam and a 27 MW hydroelectric generating station, Centrale Hull 2, on the Gatineau side of Chaudière Falls from Hydro-Québec.

Once this acquisition is complete, Hydro Ottawa will own 100 per cent of the hydroelectric facilities at the Chaudière site on both sides of the Ottawa River – signifying even greater possibilities to grow Ottawa’s green energy capacity for the future.