Category Archives: Montreal River

Latchford Generating Station, Montreal River

Built over a century ago, the flood control dam is located in the small Town of Latchford, an hour north of North Bay. The Water Power Group, working with stakeholders and council in the Latchford community, is in the process of resurrecting the site, so that it will not only fulfill its original function to safely control levels of the Montreal River, but also produce electricity.

In addition to a new dam, the community will also benefit from the bridge that will be built as part of the project, which will provide year-round passage across the river for pedestrians, bicycles and snowmobiles and support outdoor activities such as hiking and fishing.

With a 40-year Feed-in-Tariff contract with the province to purchase the power produced and approval from Hydro One to connect to the electrical grid system, the project is well underway. Construction to build a new dam directly behind the existing dam, which can no longer operate safely, is planned for 2014-2016. The new dam will conform to the same flow and elevations controls as the original dam, owned by Public Works Canada, and in accordance with the management plan for the Montreal River, will maintain more consistent water levels in Bay Lake.

The new dam will hold three very low-head turbines that will generate l.5 MW of electricity. These low-head turbines – which are instrumental in making small run-of-the-river hydro generation financially feasible – have been developed in partnership with Natural Resources Canada and are assembled in Canada. Because of the slow rotation of their blades, the turbines are proported to be ‘fish friendly’, and as they are fully submerged, are virtually silent. Programmed to provide accurate control of the level of the lake, the turbines can automatically respond to changes in the flow of the river while maintaining peak operating efficiency.

The dam will be made of concrete and may make use of an inflatable rubber weir. Used in North America for over 30 years, rubber dams control lake levels very accurately – even when completely frozen and covered in ice, an important consideration in Northern Ontario. They can be partially deflated in just 20 minutes to allow fast rising water to be dispersed without flooding surrounding homes and land.

Environmental assessment is a vital aspect of waterpower project development, and an ongoing process.