Drinking Water And Hydroelectric Power - Binding The Common Future Of Canada And USA

romain river hydro complex image
Romain River Project watershed, excerpted from original.

Image credit:Montreal Mirror.

In the US Upper Midwest, the Great Lakes, constituting the largest single store of freshwater in the world, are literally the shared resource of Canada and six US States.

Hydroelectric power produced in Canada - generally known there as simply "hydro" - is another water-created, and shared resource of increasing importance to Canada and the US Northeast. DailyTech reports that much of 8 Terawatt-hours (1550 MW) of new Canadian "hydro" could soon be on its way to New England and to New York State, specifically. (1550 MW of hydroelectric capacity is roughly the equivalent of what a thousand new top-of-the-line wind turbines would be rated at, cumulatively.

Notably, export of the new green, hydroelectric power to the USA, from Canada, will be encouraged by renewable energy targets, as included in the present energy bill being considered in the US Congress.

The Romaine Hydroelectric Complex will have 1550 MW of capacity and produce 8 terawatt-hours of electricity per year. Consisting of four power plants when completed, it will be able to supply electricity for 450,000 households.

Much of that power could end up in New York state and New England. Hydro-Quebec, the province's public utility, generates over 95% of its electricity from hydropower. It currently exports 21.3 terawatt-hours of electricity per year to Ontario, New York state, and New England, generating over $1.9 billion CAD in revenue for 2008.

Several factors are leading to increased hydroelectricity imports. The Obama administration’s policies on renewable energy, greenhouse gas emissions trading, and the shift away from coal power plants means that hydroelectricity becomes more attractive to municipalities. On the other hand, growing power consumption along the eastern seaboard means that new and replacement power generation must be brought online quickly.

As reported by various sources, construction of the Romain River complex will end in 2020, with the first power slated to come on stream in 2014.

Much of the water flowing through the turbines at Niagara Falls originates from Canadian watersheds. That water-driven source has, historically, supplied a great deal of green power to the US, and will continue to do so.

Should the various offshore wind farms being proposed for Lakes Erie, Ontario, and Michigan be completed, their power output will be created by the wide open spaces (wind fetch) offered by the shared water resource.

Contrast the above, with how water is shared - or rather how it is not shared - between Mexico and the USA. What the US Southwest and Mexico have in common for optimal green power generation performance is the sun, not water: the opposite of Canada and the US Northeast. One big difference between these two regions is that the southwest's common solar resources need no international contracts or treaties to manage them, whereas in the other instance, for shared water and power, both are needed. The other difference between the regions, relative to green power and economic development, is that it is extremely unlikely that investors would build a concentrated solar power plant in Mexico to export electricity to the USA.

Regional perspectives needed.
Yes, the US needs an energy bill with national targets and national incentives. It does seem logical, however, that some means other than political infighting in Congress be established allocation of regional priorities.

More related posts.
Hydro Power Without the Dams: Ontario Invests in Free Flow ...
Province Of Ontario Canada Plans To Close All Coal-Fired Plants ...
1000 Megawatts of Run-of-River Hydro on Tap for British Columbia ...
Our Own Three Gorges: Would We Build the St. Lawrence Seaway Today ...

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