Environmental stewardship is one of Hydro Ottawa’s core values - because much like the electrical grid, we see how everything is connected when it comes to our actions and the environment. For this reason, plants, pollinators, wildlife and climate change are all important factors that we consider with every new project or initiative. Here are five examples of how Hydro Ottawa is putting these values into practice:
- Wildlife protectors
Birds, squirrels, raccoons and other small animals can cause power outages when they come in contact with Hydro Ottawa’s electrical distribution system - either through chewing, nesting or general interference. When an electric shock occurs, it is fatal for these creatures. To protect our furry and feathered friends, Hydro Ottawa has been installing Wildlife Protectors to protect wildlife from harm – and our customers from unplanned outages.
- Multi-purpose corridors
Due to Hydro Ottawa’s infrastructure requirements, there are a large number of utility corridors, properties, kilometres of power lines, and right of ways throughout our service territory. All of these provide considerable opportunity for multi-use projects that can serve to restore the environment. In 2019, Hydro Ottawa began construction on one of its largest municipal transformer stations, situated on 24 acres of land. The new station only required five acres of the property, so Hydro Ottawa partnered with the City of Ottawa, Rideau Valley Conservation Authority and Canadian Wildlife Federation, to create one of the largest pollinator meadows of its kind (15 acres) in eastern Ontario. In addition, a four-acre tree reforestation area was planted in 2020 with 2,750 trees thanks to the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority. These initiatives aim to support pollinators, like Monarch butterflies and bees, which are in steep decline due to herbicides, pesticides, climate change and a lack of pollinator habitats.
- Honey bee hives
As a complementary project, Hydro Ottawa has allotted a safe outdoor space for honey bee hives at one of its office properties nearby to the pollinator meadow. A Hydro Ottawa employee, who is also a beekeeper in his spare time, volunteered to be the lead caretaker on this project. Inspired by his daughter, his mission as a beekeeper is to save the bees by increasing the honeybee population through spring hive splitting and helping colonies survive all threats. What began as three hives has now grown to seven. These bees not only supply this part of the city with more pollinators, they also produce lots of honey. The honey that these “Hydro bees” produce is put to good use as a delectable donation to the United Way for fundraising auctions.
- Eel ladders
When it comes to our hydroelectric dam facilities, it is a priority for Hydro Ottawa’s subsidiary, Portage Power, to preserve the Ottawa River’s aquatic wildlife needs and prevent injury. The American Eel is one such creature that Portage Power makes every effort to provide safe passage, up and down the river. This has been addressed at the Chaudière Falls powerhouse with the installation of an eel ladder on the upstream side, allowing the eels to safely bypass the facility. An eel ladder is a series of chutes that zigzag up the dam allowing eels to safely migrate over the powerhouse. It allows eels to continue their upstream migration to their traditional habitats. During the migration season, Portage Power also installs a fine spaced rack to ensure they do not enter the generating station. These screens are designed so that they will not hurt the eels or other fish, but, instead, allow them to maneuver to the bypass channels. Two bypass channels have been installed that facilitate the eels on their downstream migration. They begin at the top and bottom of the intake channel allowing the eels and other fish to bypass the generating station and continue their migration.
- Re-thinking energy
Renewable energy, innovative projects and partnerships, and energy conservation are all central to Hydro Ottawa’s environmental sustainability strategy. When it comes to renewable energy, Hydro Ottawa’s subsidiary, Portage Power, is the largest municipally-owned producer of green power in Ontario, producing enough renewable electricity to power 107,000 homes through hydroelectric, landfill-to-gas and solar installations. In October 2020, Hydro Ottawa partnered with Zibi Canada and Kruger Products to create Ottawa’s first carbon-neutral community by implementing a district energy cooling and heating system that provides zero-carbon power for all Zibi community tenants. Lastly, Hydro Ottawa believes in educating its customers on energy conservation and efficiency. As we all work together to hone our energy habits, we can save money and the planet.
While this is not an exhaustive list, it is our hope that Hydro Ottawa’s list of environmentally-sensitive projects will continue to grow longer for the benefit of our customers and the environment as a whole. To learn more about Hydro Ottawa’s vision for a greener future, check out our Environmental Commitment page.