Small-scale hydro is coming to Knowlton

Frederique Lang

The Blackwood Dam in the middle of Knowlton will be re-built by a private company using made-in-Quebec technology.

The first step would be to rebuild the dam and refill Mill Pond to create a reservoir. The dam would be built slightly higher than it is at the moment to create more ‘head’, the distance the water falls. The greater the distance the water falls, the more power it has when it reaches the turbine. Think of a column of water in a tube: the higher it is, the more it weighs.

A pipe, known as a penstock, takes the water to a turbine where a concentrated jet of water hits cups, turning the turbine and creating electricity. It is the same principle used in large hydroelectric facilities.

“Waterpower was one of the original attractions for settlers who first came to the area,” says the developer, who wishes to remain anonymous for the time being.

The electricity would not be used locally, but sent by a short underground cable to the electric grid at the Hydro Quebec transformer site about 100 metres from the powerhouse on the Coldbrook stream. Hydro Quebec would pay the site developer for the electricity generated.

“We have an agreement to compensate the Town of Brome Lake by burying the power lines throughout the village, getting rid of the unsightly utility poles,” said the developer. It is uncertain just when construction will begin.