Attempts to generate hydroelectricity at Brunel Locks continue

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A plan to generate hydroelectricity at the Brunel Locks is not dead in the water.

Green Bug Energy Ltd. and the Town of Huntsville submitted a joint application under Ontario’s Feed-In Tariff (FIT) incentive program last year, but the application did not make the cut. Now plans are underway to make another application this fall.

News of whether the application will be approved this time around won’t be known until sometime next spring. If the Electricity System Operator does give the application conditional approval, it means the producer will be able to feed the hydroelectricity it generates into the grid and get a set amount per kilowatt hour. But unless that approval is granted, spending money on the project is a non-starter.

Until you know whether or not the hydro system is willing to buy the power, you don’t even do any studies. You don’t even waste your time. Huntsville/Lake of Bays Fire Chief Steve Hernen.

Hernen, who has been communicating with the company on behalf of the municipality, said even if conditional approval were to be granted next spring, it would take several years to get through all of the environmental, feasibility and design studies required along with the public consultation process. That cost would be borne by Green Bug under the company’s current contract with the Town, he said.

Unlike the hydrogeneration projects in Bala and High Falls, which have met with staunch opposition from community members, the Locks project would be a micro-operation by comparison, explained Hernen who lives across from the Locks

Most of it would be underground, you wouldn’t even see it. Hernen

He said the building would not be much bigger than the current operator’s cabin that sits on the property. “And it does not affect the water levels at all. That’s the key thing with these things. So we’re just taking water that would normally be running over top of the dam and we’re just converting it down through this four-foot culvert.”

In terms of project size, preliminary numbers would put the hydrogeneration at about 1.6 million kilowatt hours per year, which can power on average approximately 136 houses, explained Green Bug CEO Tony Bouk. He also assured that he understands how picturesque the Brunel Locks location is and invited readers to see some of the company’s projects, particularly a rendering of what it is proposing in Delhi, Ontario. You can access the company’s website here.

Huntsville Council entered into a 40-year lease and limited partnership agreement with Green Bug Energy Ltd. last year, making it a 15 per cent shareholder in the company’s planned hydrogeneration at the Locks. If the project moves forward, the Town would 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 its general reserves. In exchange, the Town would receive 15 per cent of net revenues from the sale of power. The 15 per cent is the least amount the Town can hold in order to access Ontario’s Feed-In Tariff Program (FIT) and initial projections would see the Town making approximately $54,400 a year in returns.

See initial story here.

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9 Comments

    • Bill Beatty, oh those bugs… wouldn’t this be an upstream project that could effect downstream Port Sydney? Given this is the same watershed and Green Bug Energy, if approved, may be writing the watershed plan for MNR, how do you think this will play out if scaling up or problems of levels occur when The Town of Huntsville is a revenue signature? Where are the fb people’s voice now? Whose keeping their eye on things? If you know please share.

  1. 198,000.00 investment. May reap benefits of $54,000.00 a year after 4 years of paying for it.
    Good investment Hernen.

  2. People are buying more and more energy consuming devices but protesting every new energy project except solar which, ironically, is the least effective source in northern latitudes. We are not California and here, sufficient solar output occurs only 14% of the 8,760 hours per year, and requires back-up from natural gas for the remaining 86% of the time. New electric car charging stations like those at the Huntsville Mall will require even more electricity. Where will it come from? The 10 megawatt solar farm at Burk’s Falls covers 100 acres of carbon-absorbing greenspace and produces 12,000 megawatt-hours per year, and was approved without protest in 6 months. In fact there are two 100-acre solar farms at Burk’s Falls. In comparison, the 4 megawatt hydro project at Bala Falls that will cover ¼ acre (the rest is invisible) and will produce 35,000 megawatt-hours per year, was just approved after 8 years of protests.

    The small hydro projects at Brunel Locks or Port Sydney could easily be turned off without much impact during any period when water flows are threatened. Solar contributes when the sun is shining, wind contributes when the wind is blowing, and small hydro contributes when the water is flowing. At other times, we buy gas and deploy the carbon-emitting gas plants to back them up. Interestingly we just finished 7 days in a row with no wind and Ontario’s gas plants were running near capacity. We might be able to store energy for one 24-hour day, but storing wind energy for one week or storing solar for most of the 4 months of winter is clearly unaffordable.

    If all the NIMBYs and Greenies have their way, we will blanket our shrinking arable land with solar panels and wind turbines, and shut down everything else. Our 13,000 acres of solar panels and 1,700 wind turbines will last for 30 years. When they have to be replaced and recycled, or after we run out of natural gas to back them up, or after they realize that storing energy for the 75% to 85% of the time when wind and solar do not produce would add 50% to their electricity bill, people might realize they have been misled. Perhaps they will then realize that clean, safe hydro (large and small) where it’s available, and clean, safe advanced nuclear (large and small), that can be available anywhere, are the only sources that are both sustainable and affordable.

    • 2watts or 1,000,000 watts , a tourist destination such as The Port Sydney Falls is no place for any electrical producing equipment. This is not even remotely related to Nimbyism .This is common sense. People don’t come to Muskoka to see hydro facilities.Miz Wynne has wasted enough of our tax dollars overpaying small producers.Leave a beautiful scenic destination alone please.

      • Bill, the First Nations people on the Upper Peace River at BC Hydro Site C and North East Quebec Hydro La Romaine river feel the same way. There is nowhere to go where people don’t feel that way. So where do we go? I’m quite sure these small hydro projects are very easy to build in an almost invisible and aesthetically pleasing manner. There is nothing offensive about the Bala Falls drawings other than a bit of disturbance during construction. What is offensive about the small hydro plant at Bracebridge?

        • My concern is a installation at The Port Sydney water control dam. Visit it. it is a Tourist destination not to just view but to sun , picnic and play. .Think Port Sydney Beach. Only a Moron or the present Ontario Gov’t would consider building a project there. It is absolutely offensive in principal that a 100 + years of recreational use whether passive or active can be destroyed with blasting or site preparation. Each site is different throughout the Province and the Mantra to build because they can is not a needed nor acceptable here regardless of the visual appearance .

  3. I applaud the use of water as a source of energy. My biggest concern with the Brunel Dam project is who will be saddled with the clean up or refurbishing in 20 years (or less) when the consumer no longer subsidizes the the price paid for the electricity generated.

  4. OK let’s think 150 infrastructure $ devoted to our distribution grid, isn’t this way overdue? Or is the price we see today being inflated for private sale reasons? As was stated at the Ombudsman’s Hydro One’s Forum yesterday “why put the cart before the horse, if you don’t have the capability or capacity for storage why create these FIT policies to then charge citizens to dump the excess internationally?” Think east; Hydro Quebec and their plentiful supply; think small yes, but using world renowned proven
    nuclear technology developed here, that utilizes most of the our plentiful fuel, think the latter which will continue to be providing the majority of our power as there is no alternative yet? Another thought, and there are many, why not revisit those hydro electric facilities that have already been built decades ago? We have plentiful sources of electricity and as a public utility, also stated yesterday, “it’s universal and essential for citizens and businesses here”. Wouldn’t you agree the FIT program has been successful in many respects; pitting neighbour against neighbours, driving up the price, generating international lawsuits $$$$$ against our citizens, utilizing limited generation technologies that have potential and proven health and environmental deficits, i. e., wind power and solar? Is this what we, as shareholders and employers wish to perpetuate as role models; money culture vs community?

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