HALIFAX – The water flowing from taps in the Halifax area will now also help light people’s homes thanks to a project that’s the first of its kind in Canada.
Halifax Water flipped the switch Thursday morning on the country’s first in-pipe hydroelectric project. Crews retrofitted a pressure-release facility near Bedford to re-route excess water through a turbine. Rather than wasting the pressure, it’s being used to generate power.
The end result is a miniature hydroelectric dam. Water from the Pockwock Reservoir flows downhill and drives the turbine. Then, it continues its usual path to thousands of homes.
Electricity generated by the turbine is sold to the power grid. Officials say the project could bring in $32,000 revenue annually and produce enough electricity to power about 30 homes.
The project’s $500,000 cost was split by three funding partners — Halifax Water contributed $300,000, the Water Research Foundation (an American organization) invested $175,000, and the provincial government gave $25,000.
Officials say the project could decrease water rates for the average homeowner because its costs aren’t borne by ratepayers.
“This is unregulated activity, but it goes to the benefit of our regulated utility,” said Carl Yates, general manager at Halifax Water.
“So this is for the ultimate benefit of our customers and the environment.”
If the project proves to be a success, Halifax Water could install turbines in as many as five other locations.
“We’re the first in Canada to be doing this,” said Halifax Mayor Mike Savage. “It’s very interesting, it’s very neat and it’s a coup for Halifax Water.”