Kitchener-Waterloo

GRCA moves ahead with new hydro generation plant in Cambridge

The Grand River Conservation Authority is ready to push forward with a new hydro generation station that will provide power to several hundred homes.

Electric power station to be built on Grand River after 17 years of proposals

The Grand River Conservation Authority is planning to harness the energy flowing through the Grand River in Cambridge with a new 500-kilowatt hydro generation plant. (JustSomePics/Wikimedia Commons)

The Grand River Conservation Authority is ready to finally push forward with a new hydro generation station that will provide power to several hundred homes.

It took 17 years to get the project approved, GRCA spokesman Cam Linwood said. The 500-kilowatt power plant will be built on the Park Hill Road dam in Cambridge.

"It takes that long because we want to make sure that the financial numbers work," Linwood said. "It just wasn't feasible to build that station then. But today, it finally is."

Linwood said the GRCA will be working with an energy rate for the new dam that is "essentially set for the next 40 years," which allows officials to ensure the project makes sense financially.

'A good opportunity'

The GRCA originally wanted to build a 1,200-kilowatt facility, but Linwood said the 500-kilowatt plant will be more efficient in the long run.

"When you're building a large, 1,200-kilowatt station, you're up against some big, big operators. There's less of those contracts to go around," he said.

The flow of the Grand River at Park Hill Road would be optimal for a 667-kilowatt plant, which is more in line with a smaller sized plant. 

The GRCA generates about 1,000 kilowatts per hour, per day through the other hydro generation dams they operate.

"This is about half that," Linwood revealed. "It's a good opportunity for us."

Boosting bottom line

The energy produced will be able to provide energy to anywhere from 300 to 500 houses, according to Linwood.

"It's helping funding the bottom line operating budget of the GRCA," he said, noting more than 50 per cent of GRCA budget is self-generated.

Linwood said the river won't change much aesthetically and the project will harness the energy currently being produced naturally by the flowing water. 

But don't expect to see construction on Park Hill Road just yet. Linwood said there are still some final approvals that must be ironed out and it will be about one to two years before construction can begin. 

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