New hydro plant at Shand Dam

A new hydroelectric generating plant has been installed at the GRCA’s Shand Dam near Fer­gus and is generating enough electricity to meet the needs of about 600 homes.

The new plant, which cost about $1.3-million, went into operation in mid-July and is pro­ducing about 690 kilowatts of electricity. It replaced a 19-year-old unit that failed in 2006.

The new plant is more effi­cient than the old one and over the course of a year will gen­erate about 30 per cent more electricity. The plant will pay for itself in about six years and has a 25-year life expectancy.

In addition to the Shand plant, the GRCA also has tur­bines at its Conestogo Dam, near Drayton, and the Guelph Dam, near Guelph. The Cones­togo plant, which was also up­graded in 2006, generates about 550 kilowatts. The 23-year-old plant at  Guelph Lake produces about 110 kilowatts.

Combined, the three plants produce just over 1,350 kilo­watts of electricity, enough to power about 1,200 homes. The GRCA sells the electricity to the Ontario electricity system, producing about $450,000 in revenue a year, which is used to cover operating and main­ten­ance costs, as well as repay the investment in new equipment. The net profit of about $120,000 a year is used to help finance the environmental work of the GRCA.

The water powering the tur­bines is water that is re­leased from the reservoirs to maintain flows in the Grand, Conestogo, and Speed Rivers. The im­proved efficiency of the Shand and Conestogo plants means they can still generate greater amounts of electricity even in low flow periods.