Almonte ON, June 16, 2015 – A new comprehensive study published by the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) shows that the impact of a power plant in downtown Almonte operated by Enerdu Power Systems Inc. results in less, not more hydro production for the province. The net loss is 75 MWHr – or the average annual power consumption of just over eight Ontario households – with average flow in the river.
MFVN Research Group members examined federal river flow data from 1918 to 2012, as well as recorded river level measurements for recent years. The calculations show that flashboards increase Enerdu’s power output, as expected. However, at the same time they cause a larger loss of power at the upstream Appleton Generating Station (GS), and therefore a loss of net total power for the two generating stations. By the numbers, Enerdu gains 160 MWHr (Megawatt Hours) and Appleton loses 237 MWHr, yielding the annual loss of 75 MWHr.
MVFN along with the Mississippi Riverwatchers and a citizens coalition to save the Mississippi River and Almonte’s heritage district are asking the Ontario provincial government led by Premier Kathleen Wynne to help amend the flawed Mississippi River Water Management Plan (MRWMP) that the MVFN says does not thoroughly examine net power loss, as well as environmental degradation of the wetland. A MVFN study published last summer shows the current Enerdu hydro operation is drowning upstream silver maples that anchor the Appleton wetland,
MVFN Research Group members developed a mathematical model to compute accurate quantitative estimates of power production changes resulting from the use of Enerdu “flashboards”, which are used to direct flow to its current generating station. The model delivers the power output over the year for both the Enerdu GS and the Appleton GS owned by Calgary-based TransAlta Corp. The two generating stations must be considered together because there are no rapids between them and the water level is essentially flat. A change in water height at Enerdu in Almonte directly impacts TransAlta’s station in Appleton as well as the wetlands in-between.
The Mayor of Mississippi Mills, the town that includes a heritage downtown core where Enerdu not only operates but intends to expand its hydro facility, has read and endorses the new citizen-led study as well as a previous MVFN study entitled The Appleton Wetland: Its Decline, Cause and Recommended Action.
“I have met with various Ministers and Ministry officials on this issue over the past few months, and now am appealing to Premier Wynne and her cabinet colleagues to undertake a serious review of these studies that show no net power benefit to the province, and well-documented environmental degradation in our community as a result of the Enerdu project,” stated Mayor Shaun McLaughlin. “We urgently require open, not closed minds at the highest levels to work with our municipality, concerned citizens and all regulatory stakeholders including the Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority to review the Enerdu hydro expansion and reverse the wetland damage.”
“MVFN spends hundreds of hours in helping to conserve our natural world,” said Cliff Bennett, MVFN President. “We have many scientifically qualified members who are willing to put their knowledge towards identifying and combating assaults against the integrity of our natural heritage. Our two major documents concerning the health of the trees in the Appleton Wetland have been well received and supported by the community and our Municipal Government. All that is required now is to have our Provincial authorities professionally assess our findings and either act on them or dispute them.”
The Mississippi Riverwatchers are a local group of citizens who advocate for balance between development and community values. George Yaremchuk, a local resident, property owner, and Riverwatcher member, said, “It’s incomprehensible that government bodies would allow an already bad situation become worse with the construction of a new plant and weir. You hear the buzzwords ‘Green Energy’, but there is nothing green about a facility that destroys the environment and gives us less power. Anyone who pays hydro bills should oppose Enerdu.”
The principal author of the MVFN report, Al Seaman, had this to say: “Our studies clearly show that optimum power production case is for no flashboards (and no new weir, which would make the increased water levels permanent). This is also the requirement for recovery of the Appleton Wetland maples. The MNRF (Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry) needs to revise the water management plan accordingly.”
Community concerns regarding the current and planned expansion of the Enerdu hydro facility include:
Less actual power – As the new Mississippi Valley Field Naturalist study shows, the Enerdu hydro generating station reduces power production from the upstream Appleton station, resulting in an annual net loss of 75 MWHr for the province.
Environmental degradation – The silver maple foundation of an ancient wetland is in severely distressed due to the use of the current Enerdu flashboards. Though still recoverable, an Enerdu expansion will make the problem permanent.
Loss of flora and fauna that attracts tourism dollars – The nine kilometre stretch of river between the two dams at Appleton and Almonte is enjoyed by paddlers, naturalists, fishers, and hunters throughout the year. It needs protection.
Flooding risk – Building the new powerhouse in the river will further constrict the narrowest portion of the river and will increase the risk of flooding in downtown Almonte. To date Enerdu has not publicly released the details of its plans to mitigate this risk.
Heritage District impact – The Enerdu upgrade will be out of scale and in stark contrast to the surrounding homes, condominiums and businesses, contrary to the heritage character of the area.
Recreational impacts – Activities such as fishing and paddling will be restricted in the vicinity of the upgraded facility, and with potential damage to the first falls even less active pursuits like watching the water and strolling the River Walk will become less attractive.
Noise and disruption – Blasting during Enerdu expansion construction in very close quarters to existing buildings, and ongoing noise from an industrial-sized generating station.
Local merchants don’t want it – In a citizen-led survey answered by 91% of core heritage district businesses, 74% “oppose the currently proposed Enerdu power facility expansion”.
The latest Mississippi Valley Field Naturalist report on hydro power degradation and last summer’s report on environmental degradation of the Appleton wetland are available at: www.mvfn.ca. An attached info-graphic demonstrates the various negative impacts of the proposed Enerdu hydro expansion.
For more information related to this press release, please contact:
Principal Author of “The Appleton Wetland: Its Decline, Cause and Recommended Action”
Mayor, Mississippi Mills, Ontario
Phone: 613-256-2064 ext. 300