Hydro Ottawa to purchase Quebec side of the Chaudière dam

OTTAWA - - Hydro Ottawa announced Monday that it plans to purchase the remaining Quebec-owned portion of the hydroelectric ring dam at Chaudière Falls.

But before you get your hopes up too high, officials say the purchase won't have a direct impact on local hydro rates.

Hydro Ottawa currently provides power to 62,000 local homes. The Quebec-owned portion of the dam accounts for 33 per cent of the total structure and the additional energy coming from the acquisition will be sold off in order to generate more revenue for the company.

The new assets won’t change hydro rates for Ottawa customers – but former energy minister Bob Chiarelli, who was recently named Minister of Infrastructure, said they could improve city finances.

“Every year local hydro distribution companies pay a dividend to their municipal shareholders. I can tell you that my recollection is that it’s been on average about $20 million a year in Ottawa,” said Chiarelli.

Hydro Ottawa paid the city $19.4 million in dividends in 2015 and $18.2 million in 2014, according to their annual report.

“I would be very, very surprised at this point if this new acquisition and new expansion here did not enable Hydro Ottawa to provide a bigger return to their taxpayer to help keep taxes down and build infrastructure,” he said.

The “Chaudiere agreement” to purchase of the dam includes a 27 megawatt hydroelectric generation station on the Gatineau side of the falls. The agreement is in addition to Ottawa Hydro’s current $150-million expansion project.

Mayor Jim Watson, Ontario Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault and Chiarelli attended the announcement.

Bryce Conrad, president and CEO of Hydro Ottawa, said the amount the company paid for the remainder of the dam is “confidential” and could not be released.

Hydro Ottawa said the closing of the deal is expected before November.


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