Oakville Hydro to take over power generating station in Kagawong

KAGAWONG—Oakville Hydro Energy Services Inc. (OHESI) is in the last steps of purchasing the ownership-operations of the Kagawong Power Incorporated (KPI) power generating station and contract in Kagawong.

Bill Harvey, director of project development with Oakville Hydro, met with members of Billings Township council at a regular council meeting last week.

“They are purchasing the operations of the hydro generating plant and contract here in Kagawong,” Billings Mayor Austin Hunt told council.

Mr. Harvey explained, “The Oakville Hydro Energy Services Inc., is a local energy company, based in Oakville. Part of the utility I’m involved in is the non-regulated business operations under Hydro One.”

“We are involved in the non-regulated aspect of power whose mandate is for community-based operations, and we are involved in hydro power generation plants, solar, heating and green energy,” said Mr. Harvey. “All of this points to sustainable, renewable energy sources. And the purchase of (KPI) provides an opportunity for us to invest capital monies for the town of Oakville and become a community member here in Billings.”

OHESI “is owned by the town of Oakville, which is the sole shareholder,” said Mr. Harvey, who told council, “I have been working with Emile Masbou (of KPI) to acquire the hydro generating plant here in Kagawong. We are here to try and maintain or enhance the aspects of our operations, and want to work with local groups to encompass this. For instance the fish hatchery here in Kagawong that is near the generating plant—we want to see it continue and to help in any way we can.”

“We are looking to sustain the operation the township has with KPI and become an active community member,” said Mr. Harvey.

Councillor Sandi Hurcomb questioned why Oakville Hydro is interested in buying a business in a small town like Kagawong.

“This is an asset, and the operation represents what we like in hydro-electricity, renewable green energy,” said Mr. Harvey, noting the company has undertaken similar projects in other northern parts of the province.

Ms. Hurcomb asked whether Oakville Hydro would be expanding the current generating system in Kagawong.

This is not the case, said Mr. Harvey. “We want to run the operation keeping with the present water management plan, which we will conform to. It’s interesting, and we feel this is a good investment and we are a community-based company. If there are any challenges or concerns that come up with this operation, please bring them forward and we will address them.”

“Although hydro generating power plants have the technology in place to basically run themselves, Mr. Harvey stressed that Oakville Hydro will have someone on site on a full-time basis. He said local residents Mark Munro and Pierre Masbou will provide local maintenance support. He said an emergency response plan will be in place, and the employees will be on hand to contact if an occurrence takes place.

“And I will be on the contact list as well,” said Mr. Harvey.

Councillor Brian Parker pointed out incidents where the plant was not generating power, and problems that have occurred because of this.

“With the technology on hand for a business like this, the technology will run itself, but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have people here on site and respond to occurrences in an orderly fashion.

“In taking over Kagawong Power’s operations, are you taking over the same contract already in place?” asked local resident Gerry Mack.

“Yes,” stated Mr. Harvey, noting the current contract will be in place and followed. “And on the concerns with lowering water levels, we will be monitoring the water levels and complying with the provincial water statutes and water management plan already in place.”

“We hope the best for your company in this venture,” said Mr. Hunt.

“There is a big value with taking over the operations of KPI locally and being in partnership with the community,” continued Mr. Harvey. “At the council meeting Mr. Parker had inquired as to our process for providing safety in our operations and a physical presence. We will have this in place and want to be good community members. And if there is local community events and fundraisers, we would like to be included in this.”

“We will be adhering to the current water management plans with the MNR and municipality, and if the province wants us to make changes, we will respond and make these changes happen,” said Mr. Harvey. “We intend to keep the water levels and flows the same. We don’t want to draw the levels below the minimum ministry levels, that would impact not only the water flows and local residents but fish, flora and fauna.

“The current power generating contract has about 17 more years left on it,” said Mr. Harvey.

Mr. Harvey said at this moment, the purchase of KPI’s location station and operations by Oakville Hydro is not yet complete. “There is a significant amount of paper work in an agreement like this, and it has taken months to get to this point.” However, “we expect final approval will be provided by mid-April and then we will have to apply to the province for a permit to take water. So we are hoping everything will be completed within a months time.”

“We’re answerable to pretty well everyone,” stated Mr. Harvey. “If someone is not happy with our operations, we want them to bring these concerns forward. You could say it will be business as usual, but the new guys want to make good, and we want input,” added Mr. Harvey.

Tom Sasvari