Elora Generating Station to offer green power for generations

The power is now on at the Elora Generating Station on the south bank of the Grand River.

The station, operated by Shaman Power, is adjacent to the Drimmie Dam near Ross Street and Wellington Road 7.

The 1MW station began operation recently and held an official launch on June 22.

Pearle Hospitality president Aaron Ciancone, who considered this the first of many celebrations in Elora, said, “I’m really proud to be standing here today at what was once a dream of mine eight years ago.”

Ciancone explained that within the first few years after the Elora Mill purchase, the opportunity came up to purchase property on the south side of the Grand River.

With a background in hospitality, Ciancone approached his professional planner Brian Blackmere about building a power plant.

“Like always, Brian thought I was crazy,” said Ciancone, who eventually convinced Blackmere it was the right move because there was the opportunity to partner with Shaman Power.

“With that experience and knowledge, this project came to life –  a project we can all be proud of.”

Ciancone added, “not only will this have a long life of producing green energy, but (it) fits very well with the overall redevelopment of Elora.”

Work will continue to develop the lands on the south side of the Grand River.

“One of the things we will be doing is creating a public trail system past the power plant to the Elora Gorge park,” explained Ciancone. “Part of that work not only includes landscaping, but interpretive signage that will tell about the area, green energy and this power plant.”

Don Anderson of Shaman Power provided an extensive background on the station.

He jokingly asked, “Can you hear me over that lovely sound of money pouring over the falls? That is what renewable hydro power is all about.”

Anderson noted the station was originally developed by the Elora Power Company, which was a 50-50 partnership with Pearle Hospitality and Shaman Power.

“This station is the perfect example of 21st century technology applied to a 19th century footprint,” said Anderson.

He explained the generation station is built on the exact footprint of the station built in the late 1800s.

Anderson also noted the water drop – from the top of the dam to the bottom of the Elora Gorge – is 11 metres, a very significant head.

"That waterfall", he added, "is the reason Elora exists."

Early industry depended on water power to operate. In the early 1900s, the provision of electricity changed all that, he said, and by the mid-20th century, the site had been abandoned.

Anderson then pointed to a number of factors that allowed the redevelopment to occur.

This included the rebuild of the Drimmie Dam; the Green Energy Act, which allowed development of renewable power sources; the partnership with Pearle Hospitality; and the purchase of a crossflow turbine that can operate from almost zero to full flow and still produce electricity.

Along with the machine comes an automated trash rack to keep the water canal clean, he said.

Ontario Waterpower Association president Paul Norris welcomed Pearle to the Ontario Waterpower Association family.

Norris said “water power and small hydro sites have been the backbone of Ontario’s hydro system for more than a century.”

He explained that until the early 1950s almost all of Ontario’s hydro came from falling water.

Many facilities closed as the province moved to large centralized power generation such as coal or nuclear.

“We’ve heard that Ontario has too much electricity. It might be the case for the next couple of years, but in 2024 Pickering closes, which is 2,000MW that this province has right now, that it will not have in the future.”

Norris considered the creation of the local generating station a move in the right direction at the right time, as, “Water power lasts virtually forever.”

Norris stated there are three dozen facilities across the province that have been in production for more than 100 years.

“You’ve got a great thing here and future generations will thank you for it,” Norris said.

Following the ribbon cutting, company officials took groups of those attending on a tour through the facility.