Ottawa’s Portage Power boosts renewable energy generation capacity

As it continues expanding in the U.S. and eastern Canada, a local renewable power generation company is adopting a new name as it works to build a more sustainable energy future. Portage Power – formerly known as Energy Ottawa – is a growing community asset, with hydroelectric, solar and landfill gasto-energy generating facilities.

As one of the business lines of Hydro Ottawa Holding Inc., Portage Power is the largest municipally-owned producer of green power in Ontario. The company has grown rapidly, increasing its renewable generation capacity by nearly 500 per cent, from 22 megawatts in 2012 to 128 megawatts in 2019 – enough to power 107,000 homes.

Portage Power owns and operates all six hydroelectric generating stations at Chaudière Falls in the downtown core. Refurbishments at the company’s two Quebec-based plants are underway now, and will be completed next year.

Now, with generating facilities in Ontario, Quebec and New York state, Portage Power recently rebranded to support its growth objectives. The company entered the U.S. market in 2015 when it bested 33 other bidders to purchase four generating stations in New York state.

“This is a good strategic fit for us,” says Greg Clarke, Portage Power’s Chief Electricity Generation Officer. “Moose River, one of our biggest plants, is only three hours from here. We needed to diversify, and this brought us into a new market.”

Innovation is also a major focus in finding new business opportunities. Portage Power utilized new technology that converts methane gas from landfills into a renewable energy source. The first landfill gas-to-energy plant was built in 2007 at the City of Ottawa landfill on Trail Road and in 2013 the company opened its second plant at Laflèche landfill east of Ottawa. The two plants collectively produce 10.2 megawatts, enough to power 10,000 homes.

The next push is into solar power. Through a 2016 partnership with the City of Ottawa, Portage Power installed 8,861 solar panels at eight municipal buildings including Ottawa City Hall. Clarke predicts a growing demand for solar energy as prices for solar panels drops. “Because of innovation, the cost per kilowatt for solar is now becoming competitive with oil and natural gas,” he says. “Solar panels are destined to be incorporated into designs for homes and businesses.”