Energy Ottawa owns and operates 16 run-of-the-river hydroelectric facilities, including six stations in Ottawa’s downtown core.
How It Works
As run-of-the-river hydroelectric facilities, they are one of the most efficient means of generating electricity, creating zero waste and carbon dioxide emissions.
Their construction didn’t dam the flow of the river, or require flooding to create a reservoir – the common method for hydroelectric facility construction, which displaces wildlife and permanently changes landscapes. Rather, these facilities rely on the river’s natural flow and drop in elevation, and use a small ring dam to direct water toward the turbines.
The Ring Dam, an essential element to generating electricity at these sites, regulates the flow of water and maintains the upstream water levels.
The rapidly-moving water powers turbines with shafts that are connected to the generator. As the turbine and its shaft spin, the coppers coils of the generator rotate as well. The copper coils spin, a steady flow of electrons is produced, and electricity is added to the grid.
Energy Ottawa has over 100 years of experience operating hydroelectric plants at Chaudière Falls.
In 1889, the Government of Upper Canada developed and released 60 “water leases”, which granted their holders the rights to generate electricity and operate hydroelectric generators at Chaudière Falls. These water rights were quickly acquired by local industrialists, many of whom had already founded lumber mills throughout the site in the 1800s and early 1900s.
Over the next several decades, the lease holders diminished. By 1965, there were three primary parties:
- Ottawa Hydro (17/60)
- E.B. Eddy Company (23/60)
- Hydro Quebec (20/60)
In 1997, E.B. Eddy Company was acquired by Domtar Corporation.
In 2000, following the restructuring of the electricity sector by the provincial government, Energy Ottawa was officially established from the former Ottawa Hydro.
Energy Ottawa took over the site’s two 100-year-old buildings – Generating Station No. 2 andGenerating Station No. 4 – and completely refurbished them in 2001 and 2005 respectively. While the heritage nature of these facilities was completely maintained, they now can be monitored and controlled remotely, and contain modern equipment that more efficiently uses the water resources.
In 2007, Energy Ottawa added a third generating station at Chaudière Falls – the Grinder Powerhouse – which uses an innovative technology to add 0.7 MW of generating capacity to Energy Ottawa’s portfolio.
In 2012, Energy Ottawa purchased three additional hydroelectric plants, and a 38.3 percent interest in the Ring Dam and remaining water rights at Chaudière Falls (40 of 60 water leases). With this purchase, Hydro Ottawa’s hydroelectric generating capacity more than doubled to 38 MW, enabling the company to generate enough clean, renewable energy to meet the annual needs of 30,000 households.
A major benefit of the acquisition is that the Chaudière Falls site is one of the largest remaining water-power sites available in Ontario, with an expansion opportunity that could potentially see Hydro Ottawa’s hydroelectric capacity grow to 60 MW.
In 2014, Energy Ottawa was granted a contract through the Ontario Power Authority to build a new 29 MW hydroelectric facility at the Chaudière Falls. Commercial operation of the facility is expected to begin in 2018.
In 2015, Energy Ottawa acquired 10 run-of-the-river hydroelectric facilities in Eastern Ontario and nearby New York State from Fortis Inc.