Hydroelectricity is one of the oldest and most widely used energy resources in North America. It is generated when water passes through a dam to turn a turbine and generate energy. The process releases no emissions and is entirely renewable. With its abundant waterways, Canada’s geography provides ample opportunities to take advantage of this highly efficient, low-cost energy source. Currently, Canada has an installed capacity of nearly 90GW, which accounts for nearly 60 percent of Canada’s total energy generation and makes Canada the second-largest producer of hydroelectricity in the world.
Hydroelectricity has been part of our region’s energy story since the late 19th century. New Brunswick is home to Canada’s oldest hydroelectric dam, the Milltown dam in St. Stephen, which began operation in 1881. The Milltown dam is now one of seven hydroelectric facilities located on some of New Brunswick’s many rivers.
The 673km-long Saint John River, which runs through western New Brunswick, provides the region with a wealth of hydroelectric resources. The river’s five hydroelectric stations – Beechwood, Grand Falls, Mactaquac, Sisson, and Tobique – together generate approximately 875 MW of clean, renewable energy for the province. The largest of these stations, Mactaquac, has a generating capacity of 670 MW, making it one of NB Power’s largest energy resources, behind only the thermal generating station at Coleson Cove and Point Lepreau’s nuclear power station. It is also the second-largest hydroelectric facility in the international northeast, behind the Northfield dam in Massachusetts.
Other dams in New Brunswick are found on the St. Croix and Nepisiguit rivers, which are home to the Milltown dam and Nepisiguit falls, respectively. These two hydroelectric stations together generate 15 MW of energy, bringing New Brunswick’s total hydroelectric capacity to approximately 890 MW.
Below is a picture of the Mactaquac hydroelectric dam.