With a contract for Brunel Locks hydro generation now “virtually impossible”, Town to dissolve Green Bug partnership


Plans for a hydro generation project at the Brunel Locks are no longer possible thanks to changes to the province’s Feed-In Tariff program.

The Town entered into a 40-year-lease and limited partnership agreement with Green Bug Energy Ltd. in 2015, making it a 15 per cent shareholder in the company’s planned hydro generation — the least amount the Town could hold in order to access Ontario’s Feed-In Tariff program (FIT).

The agreement would have had the town lease land at the Brunel Locks to Green Bug Energy for a dollar a year and contribute an estimated $198,000 to the project from general reserves. In exchange, the Town would have received 15 per cent of net revenues from the sale of power. Initial projections had the Town making approximately $54,400 a year in returns on the estimated 1.6 million kilowatt hours per year that would have been generated, enough to power approximately 136 houses.

The Town/Green Bug partnership’s first application wasn’t approved, so it decided to try again last year. That application was also not approved. Any thoughts it might have had about trying again in 2017, the final year of the program, were arrested when the Ontario government quietly pulled the plug late last year.

“The final FIT application period will be held in 2016,” a December 16, 2016 directive from Ontario’s Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault read. “The IESO [Independent Electricity System Operator] shall cease accepting applications under the FIT program by December 31, 2016 and any unallocated procurement target at the end of that procurement process will remain unallocated.”

At the November 29 General Committee meeting, Town staff presented a report recommending dissolving the partnership with Green Bug Energy.

“We had entered into a Limited Partnership and Lease Agreement with Green Bug previously in order to pursue a contract to generate power at the Brunel Locks,” reads the report. “Since then, there have been changes to the program (FIT 4.0) that made the contract virtually impossible to move forward with.”

The resolution was carried and will go before the next Regular Council meeting for ratification.

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  1. It is too bad this did not work out. Not that I agreed with the financial arrangement as it was but the potential to make some electrical energy exists at this site. A small water power plant could be tucked into the island by the lock in such a manner as to be almost invisible and silent. Modern automatic controls could be used so that operating costs and maintenance would be minimal.
    1.6 million kwh, even at just 8 cents per kwh would return somebody about $128,000.00 per year…. increasing forever…. and this is the kind of thing we need to invest in to move away from fossil fuels. A small water plant could be less intrusive than solar panels or wind turbines and it can make power 24/7 regardless of the weather to a large degree.
    Small plants located at each significant water drop would all add up to a significant gain.
    It is just too bad that the Ontario Government has managed to make this such a tangled mass of permits and expensive legalese that it is not possible at this time. Someday someone will do this

  2. John Rivière-Anderson on

    I concur entirely with Brian’s take on the regrettable dissolution of the project. Modern low head generation is invisible, quiet and can easily be managed at a distance on a laptop. The time for clean multi-site microhydro will indeed come again.

  3. Frances Botham on

    There is no way that the integrity of the Brunel Locks should be compromised with a hydro generation plant. I am totally opposed.

  4. I agree with Brian, the financial deal was bad! Why did all these up-till-now promoters of Green Energy suddenly crawl out of the wood work! Big money smells awfully good! Bala Falls is the same way. By the time Ontario gets to the point of needing all of the Electricity it generates by itself and quits giving away the surplus at a loss, we will have entered the Hydrogen Age (which can be stored, – Electricity can’t).
    My suggestion? Leave the Power generation to the Big Boys Ontario Hydro, Bruce Power, and fund them to find a way to use “Scrubbers and controls to make their fuels clean and safe.

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