You have questions? We have answers.
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Who are the investors behind Water Power Group? Are pension funds invested in the company?
All Water Power Group investors to date are private individuals, many of them pioneers in renewable energy and community power. No pensions funds are invested in the company.
Are there going to be any full-time jobs created? And how will the waterpower project benefit my community?
Water Power Group fully endorses in using local labour and businesses in the construction and installation of our turbines. There may be a part-time job in maintaining the turbines. The greatest benefit is that the community can receive a portion of the annual project revenue for the next 40-years. As an equity partner with us, the community could receive even more.
Isn’t renewable energy going to raise the cost of my electricity?
Electricity costs may go up whether the power supply is from renewable energy or not. Energy costs will not go up as a direct result of the waterpower project in your region. From a community standpoint, we have already seen the savings in health costs from renewable energy instead of coal burning generators.
How can I trust that a private company isn’t just going to take our money and disappear?
We are owners in the project along with members in your community. It is in our shared interest for Water Power Group to be here over the long run.
If the community cannot raise the money for the project, then who will?
After exploring all options for your community’s financial participation, we would then ask other local communities or private investors in Ontario. There are also Provincial and Federal government programs that can assist in funding if needed.
Why should we as a community share our project with you?
These types of projects are very difficult to complete without communities and businesses working together. On their own, they are not viable or possible.
Won’t your turbines ruin the environment and take away from our use of the water and shoreline? What about boating and fishing?
The turbines that we use can actually improve fish passage and water quality, as well as improving local water management levels. In addition, there is a strict environmental assessment process for each waterpower project.
Who governs hydropower projects to ensure safe water management levels?
The Ministry of Natural Resources Surface Monitoring Centre governs the control of water management levels in Ontario. The Centre monitors water levels in many streams and rivers in the province, and its role is to decrease the impact of floods and droughts.
Are the turbine aesthetics going to make the area look bad?
Though some concrete work will be needed to house the turbine, the design is simple and has a small unobtrusive footprint. The only other requirement is a small 200-ft2 building to house electrical controls, which can be built to suit local conditions and aesthetics.
Are the turbines noisy?
The turbines actually have no noise at all, just the water rushing through them. The resulting noise would be the equivalent of water flowing over a weir or rocky outcrop.
What about dam safety?
The Dominion Water Power Act of Canada governs all dam and hydro-power structures in Canada. The Act requires that all sites be required to meet certain safety measures, such as handrails, fencing and signage. In Ontario, The Ministry of Natural Resources is responsible for managing dams through the Lakes and Rivers Improvement Act. Water Power Group works within the rules and guidelines of both the national and provincial Acts.
What happens if the dam bursts or the turbine breaks down? Who is responsible?
The dam owner is responsible for the maintenance of the dam. In some cases we may be the dam owner. All dam owners carry property and liability insurance to pay for the repairs.
What are the guarantees/warrantees on the project?
Technology suppliers provide guarantees and warrantees to Water Power Group for a pre-determined period of time. We do not provide guarantees or warrantees to community.
What is the return on local investment from the project?
We target 8% internal rate of return (IRR) after corporate tax for 40-years, which is how long our contract with the provincial utility lasts. We do not guarantee the return to local investors. The return is based on the actual cash flow generated by energy produced.
Can we stop your project if we don’t want it to happen?
Water Power Group is not interested in pursuing projects that do not have community support. It is not in our interest or policy to go against local needs. We measure the viability of all our projects based on having a positive environmental impact, community engagement, community support, and long-term economic sustainability.
Why is the project going to take so long and is so expensive?
The permitting and approvals process that help ensure that the project protects local environments, interests and meets government standards can take a long time to attain. The time it takes to install the turbines at the site is usually less than six months. Some of the turbines cost over $1 million each and the projects have many steps including raising sufficient capital. Water Power Group, in partnership with communities, is committed to develop a project correctly the first time. See project timeline here.
Why can’t we use the power that the turbines generate when there is a blackout?
The electrical grid to the power station which receives the turbine power needs to be turned off so that that the linesmen can do their work safely without risk of electrocution.
What happens when the turbines get old and stop working?
The turbines are designed to last a long time, over 40-years, and they have proven to be easily maintained indefinitely. Once turbines eventually fail, they can be replaced. Water Power Group has contingency plans and budgets for all of our projects regarding the ongoing preventive maintenance and replacement of turbines.
Being an avid boater, will the turbines impact my use of the river?
The Navigable Water Protection Act from Transport Canada protects the public right of navigation in all Canadian water bodies. The Act can either request changes to the design to make it smaller, or not allow the project to proceed altogether if navigation is impaired.
I’m an avid white-water paddler. Will your turbine impact my enjoyment of the river?
One of Water Power Group’s staff is an experienced white water paddler, and we are working with paddling organizations to ensure that minimal to non-existent impact will result from the project, to ensure continued enjoyment of the river.
Why does the turbine have to go here and not somewhere else?
In reviewing a site, many aspects are taken into account such as year-round water flow, power output, distance to transmission lines, road access, and local needs. Water Power Group does not believe in building just anywhere, only where the electricity can be reliably produced and provide the best benefit to the community and all project owners.
If a turbine is built here, what happens if a community upstream from us needs more water? Will that restrict our flow?
Many provincial and federal ministries and agencies govern water rights, to control how much water a community or industry needs. Once water rights are established they cannot be taken away, and the construction of waterpower projects does not affect established rights.
Where do you get the data for the water flow?
Various government and third party agencies such as Ministry of Natural Resources and local Conservation Authorities regularly collect the data. Some streams have data that go back 40-years. Water Power Group makes sure that the data is correct and has a good history before a project is contemplated in a given area.
How do you do an environmental assessment? What’s involved?
An environmental assessment is a detailed process that looks into how a project can impact the local environment, and promotes how to limit those impacts responsibly. Impacts measured include air, water, soil, and all habitats. Regarding waterpower projects, a thorough process has been developed from observing and analyzing projects for the past100-years.
A key part of the environmental assessment is engaging the community. Besides Water Power Group, stakeholders include the community, individuals, local business and political leaders, including provincial and federal government agencies. We fully endorse this open process, and it is in our business values to limit our impact on the environment as well.
What is the difference between ownership and equity?
Water Power Group projects are successful due to local communities becoming part owners in each of our projects. We assist communities in raising capital through the formation of co-operatives or joint ventures, and we provide the debt financing. Ownership can refer to the proportion of the actual assets that you own. Equity means usually the common share you own of a company or co-op that owns the asset.
I don’t like it!
It is totally understandable that some individuals, even communities will be negative towards a project. Water Power Group does its best to provide all information regarding a project and answer all questions to the best of its abilities. We do not misinform, provide window dressing or have hidden agendas. Our quest is a simple one, to assist communities in achieving their goals towards sustainability.