top of page

Bala Falls Hydro Project

  • Category: Wind Power

  • Location: Ontario, Canada

  • Date started: 2017

  • Status: In Operation


Located in the heart of cottage country at the edge of the Moon River in Muskoka, Ontario, this run-of-river hydro facility is located at the footprint of an older power plant owned by Ontario Hydro. It aimed to revitalize this part of the town by opening up an area previously inaccessible to the public. The project was also an important exercise in Cultural Heritage preservation.

There are new spaces for rest and relaxation and, by virtue of the power plant’s design, new sweeping vistas allow the public to observe electricity being produced, and enjoy scenic views of the Moon River.

1. About
The North Bala Small Hydro Project is a 4.7 Megawatt (MW) run-of-river waterpower facility at the south end of Bala’s North Dam, located in the Town of Bala, Township of Muskoka Lakes, Ontario. The new power plant is on the same site as an older power plant that existed from 1924-1972. The project has:
-Improve water level and spring/fall flood control;
-Have low environmental impact due to synergy with existing structures;
-Annually offset 20,000 tonnes of CO2, equivalent to 3,888 cars and light trucks off the road

2. Challenges

  • Project changes were made to accommodate the community and regulators. To address esthetical concerns, Harvard trained architect Karl Stevens was hired to design the power house under the advisement of a Design Committee composed of 8 members from the public. The new building incorporates sloped roofs and overhangs often found in Muskoka architecture. Cultural heritage aspects are being maintained. Traditional public uses, landing and launching of canoes, picnicking and other recreational uses, are all being restored with a new park built right next door.

3. Outcome

The Bala GS began operating in January 2020. The power plant is being operated out of Bala and consists of two operators and a stop logging team to manage the flows at the North and South Dam. Electricity from the power plant supplies the local grid in Muskoka. The power is produced and consumed locally. The project won the 2021 Ontario Waterpower Association Stewardship Award, the award is presented to an organization that demonstrates leadership in sustainable waterpower development, preservation of the environment, corporate citizenship, and safeguard of public health and safety.

Ernestown Wind Park

Ernestown Wind Park

In the early 2000s, a prominent prominent local judge from the Kingston area, approached CEO Anthony Zwig with the idea of building a hospital as his lasting legacy for the community. The two two men quickly determined that a hospital wasn’t needed. The judge suggested they build a wind farm instead. At the time, Anthony didn’t know much about renewable energy, but as a sailor, he knew the area had a lot of wind. He and his team began testing the wind quality of the site in 2004, and then they waited (and waited) for provincial policy to catch up with their vision.
bottom of page