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Petty Harbour power facility was first hydro plant in province

The Petty Harbour Power Plant.
The Petty Harbour Power Plant. - Barb Sweet

Petty Harbour’s power plant was the first hydroelectric plant in the province and it will remain on the provincial grid.

“Newfoundland Power has been a proud part of the community of Petty Harbour for almost 120 years. The 5.3-MW Petty Harbour Hydroelectric Plant — commissioned in 1900 — was the first hydro plant built in the province and one of the first hydroelectric plants in Canada,” said Newfoundland Power spokeswoman Michele Coughlan.

“The Petty Harbour Hydroelectric Plant continues to operate today, providing clean energy to the provincial electricity grid.”

The plant can also be isolated from the grid and used to supply local load in the area, which includes the town of Petty Harbour, if required. 

It has also been inducted into Hydro Review’s Hydro Hall of Fame.

Petty Harbour-Maddox Cove Mayor Sam Lee said there had been hope that at some point the plant would be used to power all of Petty Harbour-Maddox Cove once again.

All hydroelectric power plants supply power to the provincial grid, not to specific communities, Newfoundland Power clarified.

It has a long history for the town.

“The power plant used to be used to power (St. John’s) street cars years ago,” said Lee.

“When I was growing up, all the fishing stages had lights and they didn’t pay for them. It was part of taking the water rights, I guess —  the fishermen got lights for their stages and didn’t pay for them. Now they all got to have the meters like everybody else because times have changed.

"And everybody would lose their power years ago and we wouldn’t because the plant was right there and we would just flip over to our plant. We would have our power on and everybody else was blacked out. We want to go back to that. We want it so they could light us up again.”

The town is planning to lease land around the power plant for parking to help ease the seasonal congestion in Petty Harbour, which is a huge tourism draw.

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