Building Ottawa’s green energy economy

City does its part for Ontario’s Long-Term Energy Plan
Hydro Ottawa’s facility at Chaudière Falls
Slated for completion in 2017, Hydro Ottawa’s facility at Chaudière Falls will power the equivalent of 20,000 homes a year. (photo provided)

Many Ottawa residents may not realize their city boasts the largest municipally owned producer of green energy in Ontario.

How large? Enough green power to operate 62,000 homes each year, and that number is set to jump in 2017 with a new hydroelectric station. It’s all thanks to Hydro Ottawa’s green energy subsidiary, Energy Ottawa.

The utility’s portfolio includes 16 run-of-the-river hydroelectric facilities here and in upstate New York, two landfill methane gas-to-energy stations and solar installations.

“Hydro Ottawa is setting a standard for other municipalities to follow when it comes to balancing the five principles of Ontario’s Long-Term Energy Plan – cost-effectiveness, reliability, clean energy, community engagement, and finding ways to reduce consumption before building new generation capacity,” said Greg Clarke, COO, Generation, at Energy Ottawa. “We hope our work will continue to foster and promote a green energy economy in Ontario.”

While it’s been out of sight and mind of most residents for decades, Hydro Ottawa’s crown jewel is the historic Chaudière Falls, which lie within the old Domtar lands between Lebreton Flats and Gatineau.

Soon, the Chaudière Falls will be permanently open to the public for the first time in over a century.

It all began in 1889, when the Government of Upper Canada released 60 “water leases,” which granted the rights to operate hydroelectric generators at the site. Industrialists were quick to obtain these rights for their various enterprises. 

“Hydroelectricity generated at Chaudière Falls helped power Ottawa’s streetlights and fueled the industrial revolution, providing energy for the lumber mills lining the Ottawa River,” Clarke said. 

Hydro Ottawa has come to own 40 of these 60 water leases. The intent is to consolidate, modernize and optimize the power generation capacity of Chaudière Falls, while honouring the heritage nature of the existing facilities.

Chaudière Falls generates enough power for 30,000 households. A new facility that’s expected to be completed in 2017 will boost that to 50,000.

“That additional output will be fed to the provincial grid, helping Ontario reach its targets for a more balanced mix of clean energy sources for the province as a whole,” Clarke said. 

Run-of-the-river hydroelectric facilities like the one at Chaudière Falls are incredibly efficient means of generating electricity, creating zero waste and carbon dioxide emissions. As long as they are maintained, their lifespan is unlimited.

Learn more about Hydro Ottawa’s green power assets, visit its subsidiary’s website at energyottawa.com/generation.