Community leaders and company associates were on hand last Wednesday afternoon as H2O Power officially opened its office and workshop here—located in the renovated shop wing of the former Fort Frances High School.
Company president Jim Gartshore noted he took shop class in that very spot many years ago and now he’s here to head the company.
The local building previously was a workshop—and now remains one, he said.
“It will serve as a maintenance shop for the [hydroelectric power] stations in the west,” Gartshore explained, noting H2O Power owns five dams in this part of the province, including the one here at Fort Frances as well as the Kenora and Norman generating stations, and another three in southern Ontario.
The company’s head office is in Oshawa, but Gartshore noted Fort Frances was a good place to set up the workshop area.
“It’s centrally-located [for the western stations], we found a good space, and we have trained people to rely on here,” he reasoned.
“It just made sense to put it here.”
H2O Power formerly was known as ACH Limited Partnership, which was established in April, 2007 to hold hydroelectric generating assets in Ontario.
On Feb. 11, 2011, AbitibiBowater announced it had signed a binding agreement for the sale of its 75 percent indirect interest in ACH Limited Partnership to a consortium formed by a major Canadian institutional investor and a private Canadian renewable energy company.
On July 13, 2011, ACH
Limited Partnership changed its name to H2O Power Limited Partnership to reflect a corporate reorganization.
Fort Frances Mayor Roy Avis, along with the two investors (Patrick Samson of the Public Sector Pension Investment Board and Kent Brown of BluEarth Renewables Inc.), referred to the good news of the company setting up shop here in their remarks during last Wednesday’s official opening.
“I’m please to be involved in a good news story,” Mayor Avis stressed, thanking Gartshore personally for his contribution locally.
“This investment fits very well with our investment strategy,” noted Samson, citing its stability.
Brown, meanwhile, also referred to the long-term stability of the investment, as well as it providing jobs and “green” energy.
“Hydro plants provide certainty and stability,” he remarked.
“We’re very happy to be here in Fort Frances.”
There are four jobs here in Fort Frances, and another two in Kenora, associated with the facility.
Gartshore said hydroelectricity is a long-term prospect because it is there forever.
And he’s hoping their business will grow, possibly to add wind and solar power to its portfolio.
“All things electrical—it’s something I love and I’m excited to be here to lead it,” Gartshore enthused.