Denny’s Dam Could Produce Power In The Future

Denny's Dam on the Saugeen River at Southampton. (photo by Jordan MacKinnon)

Saugeen Shores council is being asked to support a plan to generate hydroelectric power on the Saugeen River.

California-based Natel Energy is proposing to build a 500-kilowatt hydroelectric station at Denny’s Dam in Southampton, and has requested municipal support as part of its feed-in tariff application to the provincial government.

Patrick Gillette is a consultant for Natel Energy and says while the proposal is in its infancy, it would be about a $5-million project, with about half of that cost being spent locally.

Gillette says Denny’s Dam is an ideal location for the project because the dam is already in place, which mitigates much of the environmental impact of constructing a hydroelectric station.

The original Denny’s Dam was constructed about a century ago to provide electricity to what is now Saugeen Shores, though the dam was later dismantled then rebuilt in the 1970s to serve as a barrier to keep the invasive sea lamprey out of the Saugeen River.

The Lake Huron Fishing Club is voicing some concern over the proposal, as Vice President Mike Hahn explains they want to make sure the dam continues to serve its original purpose.

“Right now, it’s a sea lamprey barrier, so we must maintain stopping sea lamprey from getting into the head waters,” says Hahn. “The safe passage of spawning fish going up the river to spawn and thirdly…the baby fish that are smolting out of the river, going out to [Lake Huron] to grow into their adulthood, we have to make sure they don’t get chopped up by turbines as they pass through.”

The FIT application, environmental assessment, and subsequent construction is expected to take at least eight years to complete.