According to Statistics Canada, the Ottawa-Gatineau region is estimated to have reached a population of over a million as of July 2019, with a year-over-year growth rate of 2.3 per cent. Even more striking is that, based on their data, population growth rates in the city have been steadily on the rise since 2015. This growth spurt is evidence of a healthy and happy city. However, to sustain this sentiment, it’s critical for organizations, like Hydro Ottawa, to plan ahead and build infrastructure to meet the needs of new and existing residents and businesses.
City growth can happen in two ways. The first, and perhaps simpler, way is through expanding outwards, otherwise known as urban sprawl. When the city grows through expanding boundaries, brand new hydroelectric systems can be developed and constructed to extend the grid. This is an expensive way to grow but does come with the benefit of not hindering existing customers as much through planned power interruptions.
The second, and often more favourable, way for a city to grow is upwards – which incidentally is part of The City of Ottawa’s vision. When a city grows upwards, it means the development of higher density neighbourhoods and high-rise buildings. The advantage of this is that it makes use of pre-existing infrastructure while also promoting more sustainable, community style living. Along with higher density living and working spaces, however, comes the need for significantly higher levels of electricity demand.
Whether the City of Ottawa continues to grow through expanding its boundaries or through increasing in density, Hydro Ottawa continually works with city planners and developers in anticipation for increased electricity demands and loads. In this process, our distribution engineers must carefully balance safety, reliability, efficiency, and innovation to provide customers with the best possible service.
An example of a recent major project that was initiated to meet growing electricity demands is the Power South Nepean Project. Demand for electricity almost doubled in this area since 2002 and, over the next twenty years, electricity needs in the community are expected to more than double yet again from planned residential and commercial development. To ensure that south Nepean – literally – has the power to grow, Hydro Ottawa and Hydro One are planning for new electricity facilities to strengthen the electricity system that serves the community. These efforts will include building a new municipal transformer station and the rebuilding of a Hydro One transmission line.
Amidst shiny new opportunities that come and go as the city grows, Hydro Ottawa officials also place great importance on how they can maintain and renew existing infrastructure – with a special focus on aging infrastructure and risks to reliability and service quality. An example of a project that relates to this focus is the cable and transformer replacement project, scheduled to for completion this month (August 2020), in the Beauséjour/Orleans area. With this project comes the replacement of 50 padmount transformers – integral to providing reliable electricity.
Maintaining quality service means consistently investing in already established neighbourhoods to improve the way that power is distributed. After all, how well a city is powered is a foundational platform for how the city can expand and evolve. Therefore, with every new project, Hydro Ottawa places an equal measure of care on maintaining high-quality hydroelectric service to each of its customers.