An Electrified Parkhill Dam in Cambridge

January 22, 2010 at 1:20 am Leave a comment

Parkhill Dam with the old Riverbank Mill in the background.

Parkhill Dam can generate about $1 million a year in electricity, but it could take five years to get all the approvals in place to build a dynamo there.

he idea of building a power house at the west end of the dam has been kicked around for years, including a formal feasibility study was done in 1999 by the Grand River Conservation Authority and Cambidge-North Dumfries Hydro. It didn’t make financial sense then, but provincial electricity pricing contracts announced in October have changed the power play.

“Construction would cost about $4.8 million, so it’s a five-to-seven year payback period. It’s a nice payback period,” said Joe Farwell, the authority’s engineer and assistant chief administrative officer.

The dam was built in 1837 just north of Queen Street—now Parkhill Road—to store water that was later released down a Mill Race channel to power grist, flour and woollen mills along the east bank of the river. The original mill stills stands today at Parkhill and Water Street.

Other water-powered factories that lined the river are now gone, replaced with flood walls, earthen berms and Mill Race Park.

The authority already runs electrical generating stations at three dams upstream of Parkhill dam, generating $450,000 a year in revenue from electricity sales.

A Parkhill dynamo would double the power generated by the conservation authority. But because of sweeter provincial power purchase prices approved in October, it would triple the annual revenue.



Entry filed under: Cambridge, Waterloo Region. Tags: , , , , , .

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