Monday, January 30, 2006

It's about Toronto's power

Earlier this week I wrote about the impending (hell, current) power crunch in Ontario. Yesterday's Star has an editorial and today quotes Premier McGuinty on the issue of the city's power future. One of the statements it makes is quite stunning - that no power is generated in the City of Toronto. It's also not quite true - all over the city various facilities such as hospitals have generators which could be used to maintain city power at crisis points if the means to exchange power with the grid existed, and sufficient safeguards were built into the system to ensure the generator could isolate itself from the grid to protect the facility it is powering if the grid itself becomes unstable. Power grids generally are quite old-school in their lack of flexibility compared to telecoms which are accelerating towards fully distributed operation. The ideal is for power to be produced as near its users as possible, to enable communities to be more self-sufficient and the grid to be more fine-grained, promoting small scale solar, wind and water power as well as promoting off-peak power use.

The current model in Ontario is heavily dependent on large, somewhat remote from their end-user facilities like the nuclear stations of
Darlington, Bruce and Pickering and the slated for closure coal fired Nanticoke. None of these are within the city of Toronto, the biggest power user in Ontario. Hizzoner's current stance would keep it that way, making life difficult for the proposed 550MW plant in the portlands, near or within the decommissioned Hearn station. He insists the plant be co-generating to increase efficiency, with the waste steam being used for district heating. This is a capital idea, widely implemented worldwide, with one teeny-weeny problem - there's nothing to heat nearby since the nearby Portlands are currently derelict, a victim of the ongoing penny-pinching and power struggles between the three layers of government. The Mayor also pushes conservation when decrepit Toronto social housing stock is a huge user of power from window airconditioning and electric heaters.

The attitude that the rest of Ontario should put up with generating stations, even relatively clean gas fired ones, to power Toronto (and requiring ugly high tension pylons to bring said power) is the reason so many people in Ontario hate Hogtown, not just the rest of Canada! The same attitude which says our trash is someone else's problem, which says our air transport needs and the consequent noise is Mississauga and Brampton and Pickering's problem.

Toronto needs a better grid, the Portlands station, the proposed 60MW Lake Ontario offshore wind farm and some turbines along the Toronto Islands too, expansion of the Enwave water cooling system if feasible and serious carrot and sticks to the city's landlords (including TCHC) to improve the efficiency of its buildings. McGuinty has to make this work or his promise to close the coal plants will result in the closing of many other businesses from brownouts. David Miller should get on board or get out of the way - sadly his left-wing allies in the downtown wards (as well as Beaches NDP MPP wannabe Peter Tabuns) probably won't let him.
Post a Comment